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  • Mark L. Keats

chomping at the bit: ways to disappear

The beginning of Idra Novey's debut novel Ways to Disappear is reminscient of Italo Calvino's The Baron in the Trees. That is, much like Cosimo seeking shelter up in the trees after refusing to eat snails prepared by his sister, Battista, Novey's Beatriz Yagoda is also looking to disappear. And she does. But she does not run away from snails. Once she vanishes up into an almond tree, Novey begins to not only bring in compelling characters--people like Beatriz's American translator, Emma, and the loan shark, Flamenguinho,--she also reveals the many ways people can, as the title says, disappear. A poet and a translator, too, Idra Novey's novel is also about translators and translations. And how many books can you remember that follows a translator? I'm excited for Novey's new book, and I hope you get a chance to read it soon.

Idra Novey is the author of the debut novel Ways to Disappear. Born in western Pennsylvania, she has since lived in Chile, Brazil and New York. Her poetry collections include Exit, Civilian, selected by Patri­cia Smith for the 2011 National Poetry Series, The Next Coun­try, a final­ist for the 2008 Fore­word Book of the Year Award, and Clarice: The Visitor, a collaboration with the artist Erica Baum. Her fiction and poetry have been translated into eight languages and she’s written for The New York Times, NPR’s All Things Con­sid­ered, Slate, and The Paris Review. She is the recipient of awards from the National Endow­ment for the Arts, Poets & Writ­ers Mag­a­zine, the PEN Trans­la­tion Fund, the Poetry Foundation, and the Poetry Society of America. She’s also translated the work of several prominent Brazilian writers, most recently Clarice Lispector’s novel The Pas­sion Accord­ing to G.H. She teaches in the Creative Writing Pro­gram at Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity and has also taught at Columbia, NYU, Fordham, the Catholic University of Chile, and in the Bard Prison Initiative.

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