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“Like Bolaño, Vásquez is a master stylist and a virtuoso of patient pacing and intricate structure” LEV GROSSMAN, Time Magazine


“Juan Gabriel Vásquez . . . has succeeded García Márquez as the literary grandmaster of Colombia” ARIEL DORFMAN, New York Review of Books


A morally complex, searing set of stories by the award-winning author of The Sound of Things Falling and The Shape of the Ruins (shortlisted for the Booker International Prize 2019).

A renowned photographer probes a traumatic incident in the life of a fellow guest at a countryside ranch. A chance meeting at a regimental reunion obliges a Korean War veteran to confront a shameful secret. And in the title story, an internet search for a book published in 1887 leads to the discovery of the life of a remarkable woman: Aurelia de Léon, who arrives in Colombia as a child orphan of the Great War, but as a free-spirited adult runs foul of her adoptive country’s deep conservatism.

The characters in Songs for the Flames are all men and women touched by violence – sometimes directly, sometimes tangentially – but the lives of all of them are irrevocably changed by the experience.


Translated from the Spanish by Anne McClean

Reviews

A book crammed with human stories in which various tragedies are seen at a distance. And with the characters that could easily have been the protagonists of their own novels
El Pais, Federico Simon
In these nine stories, written in the first person and in prose as swift and elegant as crystal, Vásquez does not build a purely fictional universe, but presents himself, like Cervantes, as a chronicler of events that happened and are in some way part of his biography.
Diego Gandara, La Razon
The invisible stitching between these different levels of the story is a great technical achievement
Jorge Humberto Botero, Semana
Nine stories in which the laws of chance burst into the characters' daily lives, leading them to sketch out other stories in which, willingly or not, they become characters in something bigger than themselves
El Tiempo
A masterful writer. Juan Gabriel Vásquez has many gifts-intelligence, wit, energy, a deep vein of feeling-but he uses them so naturally that soon enough one forgets one's amazement at his talents, and then the strange, beautiful sorcery of his tale takes hold.
Nicole Krauss
Juan Gabriel Vásquez is one of the most original new voices of Latin American literature.
Mario Vargas Llosa
For anyone who has read the entire works of Gabriel García Márquez and is in search of a new Colombian novelist... a thrilling new discovery.
Colm Tóibín