Lilit Thwaites reviews 'All My Goodbyes' by Mariana Dimópulos, translated by Alice Whitmore

Lilit Thwaites reviews 'All My Goodbyes' by Mariana Dimópulos, translated by Alice Whitmore

All My Goodbyes

by Mariana Dimópulos

Giramondo, $24.95 pb, 160 pp, 9781925336412

After all my travels, all those years lost and won and lost again; after testing a thousand times the raw stock of my being, which never seemed to cook; when at last I had found a man and I had loved him, they called me up so I could see how the story ended: the living room covered in blood from wall to wall, the ransacked house, the abandoned axe. What was I supposed to say?

Given that the unnamed narrator–protagonist of Mariana Dimópulos’s All My Goodbyes (Cada despedida) has difficulty putting together and understanding her own fractured, nomadic life, it is perhaps not surprising that we readers have to call on all of our faculties to reconstruct her narrative – but it is well worth the effort. It is often a challenge even to know where we are in time because of the constant shifts from present to past, but this fragmentation contributes to a sense of timelessness – or to the unimportance of time – in this novella where the past is remembered from the present and where place matters more than time. This, too, calls for a focused reader alert to every verbal nuance and tense shift, and willing to assemble the narrative jigsaw. Spare a thought for the translator, Alice Whitmore, whose task it was to convert this Spanish puzzle into an equally enthralling English one – and who does so magnificently.

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Lilit Thwaites

Lilit Thwaites

Lilit Žekulin Thwaites is an award-winning Melbourne-based literary translator, and an honorary research fellow in contemporary Spanish literature at La Trobe University. She won the inaugural Multicultural NSW Early Career Translator Prize at the 2015 New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards, and was recently awarded the Spanish Order of Civil Merit for her contribution to the promotion of Spanish culture in Australia. Her translations include The Librarian of Auschwitz (Antonio Iturbe, 2017), Tears in Rain (Rosa Montero), one of World Literature Today’s 75 Notable Translations of 2012, and its sequel, Weight of the Heart (2016), and The Immortal Collection (Eva García Sáenz, 2014).

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