by Carlos Labbé

July 2, 2024
novel | pb | 200 pgs.
5.5" x 8.5"

On the eve of the 1962 World Cup in Chile, a retired sports commentator with a secret ability to influence living beings with his voice encounters one of the directors of the Chilean national team—a feminist with a covert agenda—on an overnight train ride to Santiago. The director convinces the commentator to return to broadcasting in order to call Chile's matches and to utilize his unique vocal power to influence their outcomes.

Later, when Chile is facing off against Brazil in the semifinal match, the plan diverges from one of conventional victory and the narrative bifurcates, simultaneously tracking the action on the field and a startling sequence of events that is unfolding in one of the stadium’s luxury boxes, and what initially looks like a story of intrigue and action and an exploration of class warfare, representation, and social justice, emerges as a novel that enacts the notion that art can only transcend through collective creative action. 

Within the world of Carlos Labbé’s fiction, this novel can be understood as a continuation and broadening of the political project signaled in his early work and a doubling-down on the formal playfulness and elusive sensibility that characterizes 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 oeuvre, and with The Murmuration he engages the world of professional soccer, making his most direct appeal to the masses yet. 

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 LinesThe Literary ReviewThe ScofieldThe Arkansas InternationalFuture 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