Five essential novels by Paul Auster | Culture

He published his first book of poems half a century ago and his first essay, The invention of loneliness in 1982, but it was with his novels throughout that decade and the following that the Paul Auster phenomenon emerged. His stay in France in his youth marked his literary vision, but few authors are so blended in with a city, a place as diverse and legendary as New York, to which Auster – who died this Wednesday at the age of 77 – has dedicated his work, not only novels, also essays like the one he wrote about the poet and writer Stephen Crane, or films like Smoke. Chance, loneliness, love, melancholy, fears and madness or friendship are essential pieces in Auster’s stories, in which there are nods to great works of literature and meta-literary games, but without digressing or scaring away the reader. Her books were published in Spanish by Anagrama, but in 2011 Seix Barral took over the catalog and shortly afterward the rights to his new works.

The New York Trilogy (Seix Barral). Three books published in the mid-eighties, Crystal City, Ghosts and The closed room make up this volume with which Paul Auster rose to fame. A story of detectives, mystery and literature, which demonstrates that the plot is not at odds with meta-literature, that an author can confabulate and speak to the reader by breaking down that fourth wall, openly playing with reality, fiction, mysterious chance and madness, without giving up something as classic and entertaining as a detective story. In the first of the three installments Paul Auster himself and Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote appear.

View of the New York subway in 2023.
SARAH YENESEL (EFE)

moon, S Palace (Seix Barral). The city where Auster lived most of his life, New York, the Columbia University where he studied and the family mysteries of the young Marco Stanley Fogg run through this novel. A bildungsroman or training novel in which the orphan protagonist will be helpless after losing his uncle Victor and will have to try to survive in Manhattan, he will discover love with Kitty Wu and friendship with Zimmer, and he will be hired by a mysterious old man who really wants what he wants. is to write his obituary. Chance, family entanglement and the most human and everyday side of the big city.

The book of illusions (Seix Barral). Considered by the renowned critic James Wood as the best of his works of fiction, Auster takes up Zimmer’s character in this novel. Moon, S Palace. He is the protagonist of this story in which loneliness, isolation, obsession and grief are the starting point. The loss of his family in an accident ends up randomly leading Professor Zimmer to the story of a silent film actor whose whereabouts are unknown. Writing about him will help to unravel the mystery and heal the wounds that the protagonist will manage to close thanks to his contact with the actor. Memories from beyond the grave of Chateaubriand that Zimmer intends to translate shines in the background of this novel.

Brooklyn Follies(Seix Barral). Nobody better than Paul Auster has represented the writer in Brooklyn, the borough which he and his wife, author Siri Hustvedt, turned into a mecca chic literary from his home in Park Slope. In this novel, set in Brooklyn, Auster returns to some of the themes that mark his novels: the meeting of two loners, friendship as a lifeline, chance, and the fear of facing life.

Cover of ‘4321’, by Paul Auster.

4, 3, 2, 1 (Seix Barral). Four versions of the same life, that of Archie Ferguson, brought together in this great novel of more than 900 pages, published in 2017 and on which Auster worked for seven years. The order of factors does alter the product of a life, but what details can change the outcome of a biography? Auster throws the dice and changes the story of that Jewish boy from New Jersey, his parents, his university years, his loves… Everything is fortuitous, what we think, what we vote, what we want, this book seems to affirm with the one in which Auster was nominated for the Booker and demonstrated the strength of his imagination.

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