translated by Ursula K. Le Guin
August 15, 2003
(Click cover for larger image)
empresses, storytellers, thieves . . .
and the Natural History of Ferrets
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An interview with Angélica
Two excerpts from Kalpa Imperial:
Kalpa Imperial is the first
of Argentinean writer Angélica Gorodischer's nineteen award-winning
books to be translated into English. In eleven chapters, Kalpa
Imperial's multiple storytellers relate the story of a fabled
nameless empire which has risen and fallen innumerable times. Fairy
tales, oral histories and political commentaries are all woven tapestry-style
into Kalpa Imperial: beggars become emperors, democracies become
dictatorships, and history becomes legends and stories.
But Kalpa Imperial is
much more than a simple political allegory or fable. It is also a
celebration of the power of storytelling. Gorodischer and acclaimed
writer Ursula K. Le Guin, who has translated Kalpa Imperial,
are a well-matched, sly and delightful team of magician-storytellers.
Rarely have author and translator been such an effortless pairing.
Kalpa Imperial is a powerful introduction to the writing of
Angélica Gorodischer, a novel which will enthrall readers already
familiar with the worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin.
* Selected for the New
York Times Summer Reading list.
* "The dreamy, ancient
voice is not unlike Le Guin's, and this collection should appeal
to her fans as well as to those of literary fantasy and Latin American
--Library Journal (Starred Review)
York Times Book Review
"There's a very modern
undercurrent to the Kalpa empire, with tales focusing on power (in
a political sense) rather than generic moral lessons. Her mythology
is consistent -- wide in scope, yet not overwhelming. The myriad
names of places and people can be confusing, almost Tolkeinesque
in their linguistic originality. But the stories constantly move
and keep the book from becoming overwhelming. Gorodischer has a
sizeable body of work to be discovered, with eighteen books yet
to reach English readers, and this is an impressive introduction."
-- Review of Contemporary Fiction
"Those looking for offbeat
literary fantasy will welcome Kalpa Imperial: The Greatest Empire
That Never Was, by Argentinean writer Angélica Gorodischer.
Translated from the Spanish by Ursula Le Guin, this is the first
appearance in English of this prize-winning South American fantasist."
-- Publishers Weekly
"The only thing more amazing
than the stories about this nonexistent empire is the fact that
it has taken them so long -- twenty years -- to appear in English."
"It's always difficult
to wrap up a rave review without babbling redundant praises. This
time I'll simply say "Buy this Book!""
"The elaborate history
of an imaginary country...is Nabokovian in its accretion of strange
and rich detail, making the story seem at once scientific and dreamlike."
-- Time Out New York
Imperial has been awarded the Prize "Más Allá" (1984),
the Prize "Sigfrido Radaelli" (1985) and also the Prize Poblet (1986).
It has had four editions in Spanish: Minotauro (Buenos Aires), Alcor
(Barcelona), Gigamesh (Barcelona), and Planeta
Emecé Editions (Buenos Aires).
An excerpt from Kalpa Imperial,
"The End of a Dynasty," was
originally published in the original anthology Starlight
Praise for the Spanish-language
editions of Kalpa Imperial:
Angélica Gorodischer, both
from without and within the novel, accomplishes the indispensable
function Salman Rushdie says the storyteller must have: not to let
the old tales die out; to constantly renew them. And she well knows,
as does that one who met the Great Empress, that storytellers are
nothing more and nothing less than free men and women. And even though
their freedom might be dangerous, they have to get the total attention
of their listeners and, therefore, put the proper value on the art
of storytelling, an art that usually gets in the way of those who
foster a forceful oblivion and prevent the winds of change.
-- Carmen Perilli, La Gaceta, Tucuman
At a time when books are conceived
and published to be read quickly, with divided attention in the din
of the subway or the car, this novel is to be tasted with relish,
in peace, in moderation, chewing slowly each and every one of the
stories that make it up, and digesting it equally slowly so as to
properly assimilate it all.
-- Rodolfo Martinez
A vast, cyclical filigree . .
. Gorodischer reaches much farther than the common run of stories
about huge empires, maybe because she wasn't interested in them to
begin with, and enters the realm of fable, legend, and allegory.
--Luis G. Prado, Gigamesh, Barcelona