Martín Adán

Martín Adán

Martín Adán (1908–1985), a legendary, reclusive presence in Peruvian literature, published seven volumes of poetry and twice won the National Prize for Poetry. The Cardboard House is his only work of fiction.

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The Cardboard House

Fiction by Martín Adán

Translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver

Published in 1928 to great acclaim when Martín Adán was just twenty years old, The Cardboard House is sweeping, kaleidoscopic, and passionate. The novel presents a series of flashes―scenes, moods, dreams, weather―as the narrator wanders through Barranco (then an exclusive seaside resort outside Lima). In one stunning passage after another, he moves from reveries of first loves, South Pole explorations, and ocean tides to precise and unashamed notations of class and race: from a native woman “with her hard, shiny, damp head of hair―a mud carving”―to a gringo imbibing “synthetic milk, canned meat, hard liquor.…
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I dreamt I was sixteen and Martín Adán was giving me piano lessons. The old man’s fingers, long as the Amazing Rubber Man’s, plunged through the floor and played a chain of underground volcanoes.
—Roberto Bolaño
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