A novel by Rodrigo Márquez Tizano, translated by Thomas Bunstead
November 5, 2019 • 5.5 x 8.25 • 160 pages • 978-1-56689-563-7
In this hallucinatory novel of ruin and reconstruction, a man and his lover search for closure while a virulent plague hastens disaster in the world around them.
In a chaotic city, the latest in a line of viruses advances as a man recounts the fated steps that led him to be confined in a room with his lover while catastrophe looms. As he takes inventory of the city’s ills, a strange stone distorts reality, offering brief glimpses of the deserted territories of his memory. A sports game that beguiles the city with near-religious significance, the hugely popular gambling systems rigged by the Department of Chaos and Gaming, an upbringing in schools that disappeared classmates even if the plagues didn’t—everything holds significance and nothing gives answers in the vision realm of his own making.
The turbulent and sweeping world of Jakarta erupts with engrossing new dystopias and magnetic prose to provide a portrait of a fallen society that exudes both rage and resignation.
About the Author
Rodrigo Márquez Tizano (Mexico City, 1984) is a writer. He has been the editor in chief of VICE magazine in Mexico and Argentina and is a founding editor of La Dulce Ciencia Ediciones, a publishing imprint dedicated to the world of boxing. He received his MFA from NYU and is completing a PhD at Cornell University. Jakarta is his first novel.
Thomas Bunstead has translated some of the leading Spanish-language writers working today, most recently The Optic Nerve by María Gainza and The Nocilla Trilogy by Agustín Fernández Mallo. His own writing has appeared in publications such as the Paris Review Daily, the Times Literary Supplement, and the White Review. He is an editor at the literary translation journal In Other Words.
Praise for Jakarta
The Millions, “Most Anticipated of 2019”
TranslatedLit, “Most Anticipated Titles of 2019”
“Its style is unique to Tizano . . . An assured but challenging anti-narrative, its offbeat structure evoking a world slipped off its axis.” —Kirkus
“Dense with imagery and boundless imagination . . . Blending the wildly dystopian with the mundanity of the everyday, this time-jumping narrative is a bolt of originality from a writer to watch.” —Publishers Weekly
“A kaleidoscopic take on love and loss and longing, written in a voice that is sharp and cynical yet somehow without despair . . . a deft and deeply rendered work.”—Los Angeles Times
“Tizano fashions an original, astonishing, and terrifyingly unhinged dystopia...Thomas Bunstead adds to an impressive resumé with a seamlessly literary and peppery translation from the Spanish.” —The Millions
“A taut novel, with lyrical prose . . . the protagonist’s mental state appears to explore madness, but in the end, one realizes the quest is for the truth of all things.” —World Literature Today
“The rewards that come from reading Jakarta are manifold. . . . This is Tizano’s first novel, ably translated by Thomas Bunstead, but he has the boldness of someone who’s been at it for decades. It’s the beginning of a promising literary career.” —Star Tribune
“This challenging, provocative short novel conjures fever-dreams of a city ravaged by plague . . . horror-touched rather than horror itself, with beguiling short chapters and a mad variety of interests. To show it all at once, Tizano dares readers to get a little lost.” —Shelf Awareness
“Superb. . . . this novel signals the arrival of a unique, important voice on the American literary landscape.” —Southwest Review
“The non-linear structure, the density of the prose, the general weirdness of the setting mean you have to pay attention. That's a good thing. . . . Tizano’s distinctive style and his boundless imagination are a thrill to read.” —Locus Magazine
“It takes a text like Jakarta, I think, to remind us of the purpose of literature, or perhaps the multi-faceted nature of that purpose. . . . A wonderfully cathartic text, in the truest Aristotelian sense, one that tackles extremely difficult and unfortunately poignant subject matter and handles it with supremely gratifying deftness.” —Angel City Review
“Mind-blowingly original, powerful and stark prose, captivating rhythm, and haunting, memorable imagery. Tizano is a master of the uncanny.” —Valeria Luiselli
“Jakarta is a remarkable book, a layered exploration of a devastated world unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Patiently, strangely, these interconnected fragments reassemble into a nightmarish and beautiful hum—one meant to be experienced, not described. Let me press this apocalyptic book into your hands and say: Prepare.” —Colin Winnette
“Jakarta is what all novels should be and few are: a cultural narrative, a trace of unhinged civilization where individuals function like particles, suffering everything while aspiring to nothing but the cruel, unnoticed, even unwarranted heroism of the great anonymous histories.” —Sergio Chejfec
“It’s also novels like this that make you want to stand up and applaud the translator, whoever and wherever that translator might be. The sonorous passages that sweep you inexorably on to the next page, the alliteration and at times dreamy poeticism of the language—it is something that must be wrestled with before being set down on paper in another language. So once again, I applaud you, Thomas Bunstead. And you, Rodrigo Márquez Tizano, future nightmares notwithstanding.” —Strange Horizons