Exclusive: Read an extract from Jorge Consiglio's Fate
- Lynsey May
- 11 February 2020
Dive into this excerpt of the new novel by the award-winning Argentinian author, published by Charco Press
Translated by Carolina Orloff and Fionn Petch, this taut and quietly furious novel follows a small group of characters attempting to change their fates. As each discovers, the price for breaking away from a seemingly pre-determined, comfortable existence can be high. Published by Charco Press, Fate is the fifth novel by one of the most renowned writers of contemporary Argentinian literature. Consiglio's writing is poetic, sparse and employed to ponder life's biggest questions. This is his second book available in English and ahead of its publication on 5 March, we have an exclusive excerpt to whet your appetite.
Fate by Jorge Consiglio
Trans. Fionn Petch & Carolina Orloff
They spent some time strolling through the neighbourhood, walking for five or six blocks. They looked at antiques: jars, salt shakers, picture frames. The couple's mood circled over the morass of trinkets. Even the most inert object, something usually discarded, was in transit here, and presented itself as faintly iridescent. At the corner of Chile and Bolívar, they heard salsa music and got a whiff of fried food. These details made them change their plans. They gave up on the idea of the cocktail place and just went into the first bar they found. They climbed a narrow set of steps and sat on a sofa in the corner. They both ordered Campari with orange juice, then switched to something else. They browsed through the menu and made their decisions according to names rather than ingredients. They stayed for three hours, spread-eagled over patterned cushions, their emotions so volatile – a current that coursed through their bodies from head to toe – that they felt exceptional somehow, even irreplaceable in each other's lives. The scent of the night – its honeyed exhalations – gradually cut them out as if they were made of paper, and plunged them into a dialogue that felt austere and sharp-edged. They talked about dead stars, black holes and the value of keeping fit. Amer said he had a nephew who weighed his food on a set of scales before eating it. He was a bodybuilder. He only drank imported products: peanut tea, Evian water, raw cabbage juice. Clara was listening but from 5000 miles away, not looking at him. They were both tipsy, though still far from the point of collapse.
Clara hadn't brought her car in order to be able to drink, so as soon as they got a bit cold, they called an Uber. A white Toyota came to pick them up. Neither of them saw what they were experiencing as especially significant. They went to Amer's house. It was the second night they were spending together. At one point, while they were making love, Amer had a moment of bewilderment: he completely forgot who he was with. He tried to hide his confusion as best he could. They fell asleep under a thin sheet. The cold air made them reach for each other.
They drank mate in the morning. Clara was wearing some of his clothes. It wasn't winter but they fancied the idea of keeping each other warm. They faced one another across a folding table in the kitchen. The glare of the day reverberated through an aluminium-framed window. You snored all night, she said as if announcing something serious. Amer shifted in his chair. At first he denied it, but after ten seconds he admitted: My tongue muscles are a bit loose. Clara shook her head in resignation and said, I can't believe this is the time I've chosen to quit smoking. It is what it is, he said. They heard the muffled sound of footsteps. The upstairs neighbours. They're considerate like that, said Amer, they tip-toe around the flat. It'll be hard to sleep with you, sweetheart, said Clara, the snoring sounds come from your chest. It's as if something is scratching you. Amer swallowed a morsel. Snoring helps get the nasty stuff out, it expels all the crap from your body, he said.
Clara also changed position – and subject. She talked about life after her separation. Damned blessed happiness, she said. Amer put the kettle on again to prepare some more mate. They say beekeeping is good for reducing stress, Clara remarked. Amer felt as if he were watching a performance, but this impression didn't weaken Clara's words. She was silent for a few seconds.
Fate is published by Charco Press on Thu 5 Mar.