Zama by Antonio Di Benedetto
Presentation of the English version of “Zama,” now universally recognized as one of the masterpieces of modern Argentinean and Spanish-language literature.
Antonio Di Benedetto narrates the solitary and suspended existence of Don Diego de Zama, an official of the Spanish crown in Asuncion of Paraguay, who, after a long wait, is expected to be transferred to Buenos Aires at the end of the 18th century. Zama is going through an existential, distressing and reflective waiting, in a territory characterized by remoteness and alienation. Zama is the novel of an exile, with a timeless and archaic language, by moments close to that of the Golden Age.
The English version of the book will be presented in conversation with:
- Esther Allen, translator of Zama into English.
- Benjamin Kunkel, novelist and critic.
- Juan José Herrera, Consul for Cultural Affairs.
An ardent fan of Dostoyevsky, Di Benedetto is given to portraying states of extremity—of obsession, delusion, wild aggression—but without any nineteenth-century rhetorical overheating… Zama has been described as a work of existentialist fiction, and its protagonist, alone with a troubled mind, is as much an ambassador from the twentieth century as a Baroque-era bureaucrat. As with novels by Kafka, Camus, Sartre, and Beckett, the story’s preoccupation is the tension between human freedom and constraining circumstance… The belated arrival of Zama in the United States raises an admittedly hyperbolic question: Can it be that the Great American Novel was written by an Argentinean? It’s hard, anyway, to think of a superior novel about the bloody life of the frontier.—Benjamin Kunkel, The New Yorker
A book signing will follow the presentation.