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Esther Allen's excellent translation [of Javier Marias's Dark Back of Time] conveys the feel of her author's idiolect. 

The Times Literary Supplement

Esther Allen

Esther Allen (1962– ) has translated Javier Marias, Jorge Luis Borges, Felisberto Hernandez, Flaubert, Rosario Castellanos, Blaise Cendrars, Marie Darrieussecq, and Jose Marti. She is currently a professor at Baruch College (CUNY) and has directed the work of the PEN Translation Fund since its founding in 2003. Allen has received a Fulbright Grant (1989), a National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowship (1995), and was named a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters (2006).

cover image for Two Crocodiles

Two Crocodiles


Two Crocodiles highlights two literary masters from opposite ends of the world — Russia’s Fyodor Dostoevsky and Uruguay’s Felisberto Hernández.  Dostoevsky’s crocodile, cruelly displayed in a travelling sideshow, gobbles whole a pretentious high-ranking civil servant. But the functionary survives unscathed and seizes his new unique platform to expound to the fascinated public. Dostoevsky’s Crocodile is a matchless, hilarious satire.

Hernández’s Crocodile, on the other hand, while also terribly funny, is a heartbreaker. A pianist struggling to make ends meet as a salesman finds success when he begins to weep before clients and audience alike, but then he can’t stop the crocodile tears.

cover image for Bad Nature, or with Elvis in Mexico

Bad Nature, or with Elvis in Mexico


A boiled-down gem of a Marías story about how Elvis (in Acapulco to film a movie) and his hard-drinking entourage abandon their interpreter in a seedy cantina full of enraged criminals after insults start to fly. When the local kingpin demands to be told what the Americans are saying, Elvis himself delivers an even more stinging parting shot – and who has to translate that?

cover image for Lands of Memory

Lands of Memory


Lands of Memory presents a half-dozen wonderful works by Felisberto Hernandez: "A writer like no other," Italo Calvino declared, "like no European or Latin American. He is an ’irregular,’ who eludes all classification and labels - yet he is unmistakable on any page to which one might randomly open one of his books." Named a Guardian Best Book of the Year by Alfred Brendel and A TLS Best Book of the Year by Michael Hofmann (who calls Felisberto "a loopier, vegetarian Kafka, inhabiting his mazy personal baroque"), Lands of Memory collects four astonishing stories and the two dreamlike novellas, "Around the Time of Clemente Colling" and "Lands of Memory."

cover image for Dark Back of Time

Dark Back of Time


Called by its author a “false novel,” Dark Back of Time begins with the tale of the odd effects of publishing All Souls, his witty and sardonic 1989 Oxford novel. All Souls is a book Marias swears to be fiction, but which its "characters"––the real-life dons and professors and bookshop owners who have "recognized themselves––fiercely maintain to be a roman á clef. With the sleepy world of Oxford set into fretful motion by a world that never "existed," Marías further stirs things up by weaving together autobiography (the brother who died as a child; the loss of his mother), a legendary kingdom, strange ghostly literary figures, maps and photographs, halls of mirrors, a one-eyed pilot, a bullet lost in Mexico, and a curse in Havana. Dark Back of Time has been acclaimed here as "superb" (Review of Contemporary Fiction), "fantastically original" (Talk), "brilliant" (Virginia Quarterly Review), and "a rare gift" (The New York Times Book Review). "In the best manner of Borges," The Hudson Review commented, this hybrid is "lush and mysterious." Javier Marias, translated into thirty-four languages, has sold over four million copies of his books worldwide, and won a dazzling array of awards.

cover image for The Good Cripple

The Good Cripple


A young man, Juan Luis Luna, is abducted in Guatemala City and held at the bottom of a rusty, empty underground fuel tank in an abandoned gas station. The kidnappers demand a ransom; his rich father does not reply. The criminals threaten to cut off his son’s foot and still hear nothing. They then slice off one of Juan Luis’s toes and send it to his father, who still refuses to act. So the next day... An explosive novel from Guatemala’s premiere young writer Rodrigo Rey Rosa, The Good Cripple is obsessively focused and chilling. It is also allegorical––and under the calm surface of Rodrigo Rey Rosa’s lithe style questions about violence, mutilation, and revenge churn darkly away.