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Sudden Death (Hardcover)
We are in the midst of a new golden age of Mexican literature, and Sudden Death has opened even more audacious paths for this most cosmopolitan storytelling. To retell the plot does the novel very little service -- which isn't to say it is plot-less or even particularly difficult to follow. Rather, it is tightly wound (not unlike the balls used in the epic duel of a tennis match that functions simultaneously as the novel's centerpiece and frame) and bounds expertly between centuries from Old World to New.
Sudden Death is, at its core, a very angry book - specifically, at the insipid successes of the world's colonizers - but it is an anger born of play and the censure of comedy. The bad guy may always win in the end, Enrigue seems resigned to say, but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy the losers' little victories along the way.— From Brad
February 2016 Indie Next List
“Sudden Death is one of the most audacious, smart, and original books you will read this year. It is a literary triptych -- part history lesson, part tennis match, and part hypermodern adventure. Daring and visceral with a cast that includes Thomas Cromwell, Mary Magdalene, Aztec emperors and more, the limits of the novel in Enrigue's hands seem boundless. No other author is taking chances like this with such gratifying results.”
— Mark Haber, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX
"Splendid" --New York Times
"Mind-bending." --Wall Street Journal
"Brilliantly original. The best new novel I've read this year." --Salman Rushdie A daring, kaleidoscopic novel about the clash of empires and ideas, told through a tennis match in the sixteenth century between the radical Italian artist Caravaggio and the Spanish poet Francisco de Quevedo, played with a ball made from the hair of the beheaded Anne Boleyn. The poet and the artist battle it out in Rome before a crowd that includes Galileo, a Mary Magdalene, and a generation of popes who would throw the world into flames. In England, Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII execute Anne Boleyn, and her crafty executioner transforms her legendary locks into those most-sought-after tennis balls. Across the ocean in Mexico, the last Aztec emperors play their own games, as the conquistador Hernan Cortes and his Mayan translator and lover, La Malinche, scheme and conquer, fight and f**k, not knowing that their domestic comedy will change the course of history. In a remote Mexican colony a bishop reads Thomas More's Utopia and thinks that it's a manual instead of a parody. And in today's New York City, a man searches for answers to impossible questions, for a book that is both an archive and an oracle. Alvaro Enrigue's mind-bending story features assassinations and executions, hallucinogenic mushrooms, bawdy criminals, carnal liaisons and papal schemes, artistic and religious revolutions, love and war. A blazingly original voice and a postmodern visionary, Enrigue tells the grand adventure of the dawn of the modern era, breaking down traditions and upending expectations, in this bold, powerful gut-punch of a novel. Game, set, match. "Sudden Death is the best kind of puzzle, its elements so esoteric and wildly funny that readers will race through the book, wondering how Alvaro Enrigue will be able to pull a novel out of such an astonishing ball of string. But Enrigue absolutely does; and with brilliance and clarity and emotional warmth all the more powerful for its surreptitiousness."
--Lauren Groff, New York Times-bestselling author of Fates and Furies "Engrossing... rich with Latin and European history." --The New Yorker " A] bawdy, often profane, sprawling, ambitious book that is as engaging as it is challenging." --Vogue
About the Author
Alvaro Enrigue was a Cullman Center Fellow and a Fellow at the Princeton University Program in Latin American Studies. He has taught at New York University, Princeton University, the University of Maryland, and Columbia University. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Believer, The White Review, n+1, London Review of Books, El Pais, among others. This novel--his first translated into English--was awarded the prestigious Herralde Prize in Spain, the Elena Poniatowska International Novel Award in Mexico, and the Barcelona Prize for Fiction, and has been translated into many languages. Enrigue was born in Mexico and lives in New York City. Natasha Wimmer's translations include The Savage Detectives and 2666 by Roberto Bolano. She lives in New York City.