The Regal Lemon Tree


by Juan José Saer

October 13, 2020
novel | pb | 130 pgs.
5.5" x 8.5" 


“A cerebral explorer of the problems of narrative in the wake of Joyce and Woolf, of Borges, of Rulfo and Arlt, Saer is also a stunning poet of place.”—The Nation

One of the late Juan José Saer's most beloved novels, The Regal Lemon Tree shows a master stylist at his best. Set during the day and night of New Year's Eve—building up a barbecue that takes on ritual significance—the novel focuses on a couple in the north of Argentina who lost their only son six years prior. Wenceslao spends the day with his extended family and his memories while his wife—truly paralyzed by grief—refuses to leave their island, which is home to an almost magical lemon tree that blossoms at all times of the year.

With the recurring phrase, “dawn breaks, and his eyes are already open,” the novel takes on a dreamlike quality, calling into question whether this story is taking place in the present, is a memory, a dream, or a vision of the beyond . . . Its recurring, circular structure creates an eeriness that calls to mind the work of David Lynch.

Translated from the Spanish by Sergio Waisman


About the Author:

Juan José Saer was the leading Argentinian writer of the post-Borges generation. The author of numerous novels and short-story collections (including Scars and La Grande), Saer was awarded Spain's prestigious Nadal Prize in 1987 for The Event. Six of his novels are available from Open Letter Books.

About the Translator:

Sergio Waisman has translated several books of Latin American literature, including The Absent City by Ricardo Piglia, for which he received an NEA Translation Fellowship Award in 2000. His first novel, Leaving, was published in the U.S. in 2004 and in 2010 as Irse in Argentina. His latest translations are Target in the Night by Piglia, The Underdogs by Mariano Azuela, and An Anthology of Spanish-American Modernismo.


Praise for Juan José Saer:

"The most important Argentinean writer since Borges"
The Independent

"Juan José Saer must be added to the list of the best South American writers."
Le Monde

"To say that Juan José Saer is the best Argentinian writer of today is to undervalue his work. It would be better to say that Saer is one of the best writers of today in any language."
—Ricardo Piglia

"What Saer presents marvelously is the experience of reality, and the characters' attempts to write their own narratives within its excess."

"The style throughout is simple, methodical, clear, and lovely in places. Its textures, colours, details and layers are rich, and much is soaked in significance. It's busy and it's clever, but it didn't suffocate or make me feel stupid. It's a book that demands to be re-read."
Crystal Jeans, The New Welsh Review

"Saer is sympathetic to the heretics among us. The ones who won’t go along as if nothing is wrong, as if it isn’t too cold for summer, or that modern life isn’t horribly boring, or society as a whole isn’t some big joke."
Max Rivlin-Nadler, Full Stop