by Open Letter
Within the world of Labbé’s fiction, The Murmuration can be understood as a continuation and broadening, a shift toward a more explicit expression of the political project signaled in his early work and a doubling-down on the formal playfulness and elusive sensibility that characterize all of his fiction. Popular forms and genres (from science fiction and journalism in Navidad & Matanza to detective fiction in Loquela to pop music and protest movements in Spiritual Choreographies) have always been integral to Labbé’s novels, and with The Murmuration he makes his most direct appeal to the masses yet, engaging the world of professional soccer.
With the 1962 World Cup in Chile as the focal point, Labbé builds a narrative that is at once a story of intrigue and action and an exploration of ideas that animate the late-capitalist discourse of our current moment (e.g. class warfare, feminism, political representation, and social justice). What emerges is a novel that enacts—in form and content—the notion that art can only transcend the cages of tradition and convention, of colonialism and global capitalism, of systemic exploitation and extractive politics through collective creative action.
Translated from the Spanish by Will Vanderhyden
About the Author:
Carlos Labbé, one of Granta's "Best Young Spanish-Language Novelists," was born in Chile and is the author of eight novels , including Navidad & Matanza, Loquela, and Spiritual Choreographies (all available from Open Letter) and three collections of short stories. In addition to his writings he is a musician, and has released three albums. He is a co-editor at Sangria, a publishing house based in Santiago and Brooklyn, where he translates and runs workshops. He also writes literary essays, the most notable ones on Juan Carlos Onetti, Diamela Eltit, and Roberto Bolaño.
About the Translator:
Will Vanderhyden is a translator of Spanish-language literature. He has a BA in history from Lawrence University and an MA in Literary Translation from the University of Rochester. He has translated work by Carlos Labbé, Rodrigo Fresán, Fernanda García Lao, Dainerys Machado Vento, Camila Fabbri, Laura Fernández, Rodolfo Enrique Fogwill, and Juan Villoro among others. His translations have appeared in journals like Granta, Two Lines, The Literary Review, The Scofield, The Arkansas International, Future Tense, and Southwest Review. He has received two translation fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (2016 and 2023) and a residency fellowship from Lannan Foundation (2015). His translation of The Invented Part by Rodrigo Fresán won the 2018 Best Translated Book Award.
Praise for Carlos Labbé:
"Begins to fuck with your head from its very first word."—Toby Litt
"Labbé wreaks havoc on narrative rules from the start and keeps doing it."—Bookforum
“Labbé deliberately distorts conventional narrative forms to create a challenging but engaging text.”—New York Journal of Books