The Book of All Loves
by Agustín Fernández Mallo
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Pub Date 14 Feb 2024 | Archive Date 24 Jan 2024
In the wake of the Great Blackout, faced with the near-extinction of humanity, a pair of lovers speak to each other. They parse, with precision, with familiarity, the endless aspects of their love. Out of their dialogues, piece by piece, a composite image of love takes form, one that moves outwards beyond the realm of relationships and into philosophy, geology, physics, linguistics.
Years previously, a writer and her husband, a Latin professor, stay in Venice while she works on a text. As they roam the city, strange occurrences accumulate, signalling that the world around them is heading towards a point of no return.
Blending fiction and essay, poetry and philosophy, Agustín Fernández Mallo’s The Book of All Loves is a startling, expansive work of imaginative agility, one that renders love unfamiliar so as to renew it, and makes the case for hope in the midst of a disintegrating present.
‘There are certain writers whose work you turn to knowing you’ll find extraordinary things there. Borges is one of them, Bolaño another. Agustín Fernández Mallo has become one, too.’
— Chris Power, author of A Lonely Man
‘The most original and powerful author of his generation in Spain.’
— Mathias Enard, author of Compass
‘One of the best writers in Spanish, with an absolutely unique style and fictional world.’
— Jorge Carrión, New York Times in Spanish
‘A strange and original sensibility at work – one that combines a deep commitment to the possibilities of art with a gonzo spirit and a complete absence of pretention.’
— Christopher Beha, Harper’s
‘The Book of All Loves is a deeply poetic novel ... Fernández Mallo reflects on the present through the past, and projects us into a future where the conditions of the self, the environment, relationships and the body are all called into question.’
— El Mundo
‘Reading Agustín Fernández Mallo is the closest thing in literature to putting on a VR headset.'
— La Vanguardia
‘The Book of All Loves is at once an essay, an ode and a gospel, where two lovers become the link between one world ending and another being born, and using deep geological time to explain why some people stay with us our whole lives.’
— ABC España
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 9 members
Published 14 February 2024. This is a difficult book to categorize - poetry? Narrative? Essay? It was also difficult to get into as there seems to be no plot. But, there are some beautiful ideas. We have sections which are like a poetic dialogue between an unnamed couple - he says, she says and the language, the ideas are gorgeous ]
in every square inch of your skin I find you completely.
I know my love for you is unlike any love I've felt before because in every centimetre of your body I encounter you wholly.
Then there are sections which are almost like encyclopaedia entries describing all the different types of love - prime mover love, limit love, noise love. These sections I found hard going sometimes. And then there are sections with a narrative about a couple, she is a writer and he is a Latin teacher and they arrive in Venice for a rest. But something is happening in Venice - there seems to be more and more blind people around, St Marks Square is closed because it has become a sort of dead zone where there is no sound or smell. There is also the enigmatic ambassador that the writer encounters. By the end you see all the sections coming together and you understand the references to the statue with no eyes, the nameless bird that flies around, and the Great Blackout that is at the heart of the narrative, and the dialogue between the he says, she says couple. A difficult read, but I'm glad I read it because it was only by coming to the end that I could see where the journey had taken me.