In The Linden Tree the narrator—born the same year, in the same provincial town, and now living in the same great city (Buenos Aires) as César Aira—could be the author himself. Nothing, however, is guaranteed once you plunge into any of his books.
In any case, beginning with an enigmatically beautiful black father who gathered linden owers to make a sleep-inducing tea, and his irrational, physically deformed mother of European descent, the narrator continues to catalog his best childhood friends and the many gossiping neighbors. Aira creates a colorful mosaic of an epoch in Argentina when the poor, under the guiding hand of Eva Perón, aspired to a newfound middleclass.
Moving from anecdote to anecdote, alternating between touching, funny, and sometimes surreal, this is a charming short novella that invites the reader to visit the source of Aira’s own extraordinary imagination.