The sickness by Alberto Barrera Tyszka

Source – Library

Translator –  Margaret Jull Costa

Alberto is a Venezuelan born writer from Caracas ,he is well-known in his homeland for his biography of the enigmatic leader of his country Hugo Chavez ,he also writer piece for El Pais and Letrea libres from time to time.He has also wrote piece for television in his own country . This is his first novel in English won the Herralde prize for new works in spanish ,Bolano won this prize as well .

The sickness is a book that is about what it says on the cover sickness ,whether its real or imagine ,also death family and what it all means ,the book hinges on dr Andres Miranda ,His father is terminally ill ,they are on a trip to try to sort out ,what is going to happen to his father but also to bring some closeness to them ,also on another strand is on of the patients of Dr Miranda a man who is convinced he is ill and is constantly e mailing the doctor with his various aliments such as being breathless after exerting himself ,over course of the book his enquiries turn to stalking .meanwhile the father and son are on a boat going to the childhood holiday haunt of his father .

Dear Dr Miranda ,

I have a confession to make :I m following you .I’d love to see you face now ,to see your reaction .What do you think ? does it bother you ? Does it worry you ? does it frighten you perhaps ? or maybe you don’t even care ,perhaps you find it amusing .I no longer know what to think .

One of Duran’s e-mails ,as he starts to follow the dr Miranda .

The sickness is a riveting read ,about  modern anxieties ,and life ,he tackles how we cope with impeding death  ,also how caught up we can caught up in worries about  our health ,this shows how worked up you can after small problems  we tend to be surrounded by information in the modern age and this can drag us down this path of feel unwell due to stress .The father son relationship is well drawn as the son a tough doctor ,race to spend time with his dying father and rediscovering in some ways his humanity .I think this would be a great book group book in brings a lot to the table to discuss life ,death and illness could keep you going all night I would think .The translation from Jull costa is as ever highly readable .The book was shortlist for the IFF prize yesterday .


April 2011


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