The latest addition to my website is Juan José Saer‘s El limonero real (The Regal Lemon Tree). the character in this book – an extended family celebrating New Year’s Eve – live on a series of interconnected islands. The main character, Wenceslao, is married to an unnamed woman. They lost their only son some six years ago and while he has more or less recovered, she is still in deep mourning. He goes off to another island to celebrate New Year’s Eve with her parents, her sisters and the sisters’ respective families, while she refuses to come. We follow the celebrations but we also follow Wenceslao’s dream-like approach to life, both in the present – at the celebration he goes off for a nap and dreams – but also his memories, sometimes distorted, of the past and even an imaginary reunion with his son. The family traditional New Year’s celebration, family issues and the like, are mixed in with Wenceslao’s detachment from life and from the world around.
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El limonero real is one of my favorites if not my very favorite of all the Saer novels I’ve read. Loved the Faulknerian moves, the shifts in time, and that fairy tale segment at the end of the novel. Glad it’s finally available in English.