Longlisted for the 2019 Man Booker International Prize, The Remainder follows Felipe, Iquela, and Paloma, three young friends in modern day Santiago living in the legacy of Chile's dictatorship. The body of Paloma’s mother gets lost in transit, sending the three on a pisco-fueled journey up the cordillera as they confront the pain that stretches across generations.
... taut and propulsive ... [a] brilliant debut ... The English translation by Sophie Hughes, which appeared in 2018 in the U.K., is truly stunning, full of deft turns of phrase, and shines especially bright when unwinding Felipe’s melodic monologues ... an eerie and effective...plot ... As the road trip progresses, certain chapters narrated by Felipe grow almost nauseating—the risk (and perhaps the purpose) his frenzied prose—but the alternating narration serves its role quite well. Iquela’s descriptions of the trio’s journey are meditative and constructed with meticulous intent. They help anchor the plot and can also be surprisingly comedic. Paired with Felipe’s fugue-like voice, the exchange in perspective becomes mimetic of the fraught reciprocations between then and now, mother and daughter, the memories of parents and those of their children.
...intelligent and immersive novel, skilfully translated ... Zerán’s elegiac novel deals less in narrative than sensation, and the loss or lack thereof ... Though both surreal and captivating, the plot of this novel feels largely secondary to the cathartic experience of reading it ... The reader is repeatedly stalled in their attempts to build up a coherent narrative of the characters’ past ... The reader, too, is almost intoxicated, not by Paloma exactly but by this rhythmic fixation ... Zerán seamlessly alternates between the voices of Iquela and Felipe, highlighting the opposing and gendered ways they have reacted to the circumstances of their childhood ... The Remainder could be framed as a road-trip novel, but it is anything but expansive in its scope. Scenes take place almost exclusively in confined spaces ... There is no true resolution in The Remainder, but that does not diminish the work ... we leave feeling more aware of our limits, our past and our interior life.
Trabucco Zerán is one of several chillingly talented writers who are heirs to...late-20th-century Chilean trauma ... The Remainder is a book about what to do with inherited trauma—what good it might serve the next generation in terms of learning from previous atrocious horrors, and what paralysis it might trigger in terms of living in a world that’s materially different from the past and the muddled territory in between ... The Remainder is driven by immersion in visceral gratification as its characters flee the burdens of their lives. And while there is pleasure in this sort of running, there is fear in it, too.