Thursday, December 10, 2015


The Missing Year of Juan Salvatierra, by Pedro Mairal. Published 2013 by New Vessel Press. Literary Fiction. Translated from the Spanish by Nick Caistor.

I picked this book up thinking I would probably love it, and I did.

It's set in modern day Argentina and tells the story of Juan Salvatierra, an artist, and his son, who is searching for Salvatierra's last painting.

Well, it's not exactly his last painting that the son is looking for, since Salvatierra only ever made one painting- albeit one gigantic painting that he worked on his entire life, comprised of many scrolls of canvas. Salvatierra's two sons are wrapping up his estate and want to sell the work to a museum in Europe, for its preservation, and also to raise funds for a local museum. But one piece is missing, and since the work is largely autobiographical, they are also missing information about their father's life.

I will say the secrets the lost panel reveals are not terribly earth-shattering in the literary sense; it's a story we've heard before, but it's told beautifully and I love the conceit of the painting. I also enjoyed the sense of place we get from Mairal's writing and the relationships among the family and the community.  It's a short book, a little longer than a novella, and a wonderful one too.

This is also the first book I've read from New Vessel Press, "an independent publishing house specializing in the translation of foreign literature into English," and it won't be the last- I noticed two more of their books in my TBR pile already! Check them out.

Rating: BUY

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.

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