25 Oct / Home Reading Service by Fabio Morábito, translated by Curtis Bauer [in Booklist]
Poet, essayist, and fiction writer Fabio Morábito’s latest novel arrives stateside with the Xavier Villaurrutia Prize, Mexico’s highest literary honor. Egypt-born, Italy-raised, Mexico-domiciled since 15, Morábito is polyphonic; American poet and professor Curtis Bauer adroitly enables English access here.
Literacy, fluency, and interactive engagement with words loom throughout the novel, adding multi-layered density to what might initially seem to be a light narrative. Thirtysomething Eduardo lives with his cancer-ridden father and manages the family furniture store in the City of Eternal Spring, Cuernevaca, its former lushness overshadowed by organized crime. He’s done something wrong – a never-revealed “accident” – and is sentenced to a year of community service.
Because Father Clark knows the mayor personally, Eduardo avoids cleaning toilets, instead reading books, all foreign and in translation, to the elderly and infirm in their homes: Dostoyevsky for the Jiménez brothers, Verne for three generations of the deaf Vigil family, Dino Buzzati for soporific Colonel Atarriaga, Daphne du Maurier for mezzo-soprano Margó Benitez, who uses a wheelchair.
Exposed for reciting without meaning, Eduardo discovers his father’s favorite poet, Mexican Isabel Fraire. Sharing Fraire will save all their (reading) lives.
Readers: Young Adult, Adult
Published: 2021 (United States)