Cover image for Space Invaders : a novel
Title:
Space Invaders : a novel
ISBN:
9781644450079
Physical Description:
70 pages ; 19 cm
Added Author:
Summary:
Space Invaders is the story of a group of childhood friends who, in adulthood, are preoccupied by uneasy memories and visions of their classmate Estrella González Jepsen. In their dreams, they catch glimpses of Estrella's braids, hear echoes of her voice, and read old letters that eventually, mysteriously, stopped arriving. They recall regimented school assemblies, nationalistic class performances, and a trip to the beach. Soon it becomes clear that Estrella's father was a ranking government officer implicated in the violent crimes of the Pinochet regime, and the question of what became of her after she left school haunts her erstwhile friends. Growing up, these friends--from her pen pal, Maldonado, to her crush, Riquelme--were old enough to sense the danger and tension that surrounded them, but were powerless in the face of it. They could control only the stories they told one another and the 'ghostly green bullets' they fired in the video game they played obsessively. --
Language Note:
Translated from Spanish.
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Summary

Summary

Longlisted for the National Book Award for Translated Literature

A dreamlike evocation of a generation that grew up in the shadow of a dictatorship in 1980s Chile

Space Invaders is the story of a group of childhood friends who, in adulthood, are preoccupied by uneasy memories and visions of their classmate Estrella González Jepsen. In their dreams, they catch glimpses of Estrella's braids, hear echoes of her voice, and read old letters that eventually, mysteriously, stopped arriving. They recall regimented school assemblies, nationalistic class performances, and a trip to the beach. Soon it becomes clear that Estrella's father was a ranking government officerimplicated in the violent crimes of the Pinochet regime, and the question of what became of her after she left school haunts her erstwhile friends. Growing up, these friends--from her pen pal, Maldonado, to her crush, Riquelme--were old enough to sense the danger and tension that surrounded them, but were powerless in the face of it. They could control only the stories they told one another and the "ghostly green bullets" they fired in the video game they played obsessively.

One of the leading Latin American writers of her generation, Nona Fernández effortlessly builds a choral and constantly shifting image of young life in the waning years of the dictatorship. In her short but intricately layered novel, she summons the collective memory of a generation, rescuing felt truth from the oblivion of official history.


Author Notes

Nona Fernández was born in Santiago, Chile. She is an actress and writer, and has published two plays, a collection of short stories, and six novels, including Space Invaders and The Twilight Zone , which was awarded the Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Prize.


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

This standout debut from Chilean author Fernández dexterously tells the story of a group of Chilean friends haunted by the absence of their old classmate and friend, Estrella González, who left their school as they grew up during the Pinochet dictatorship. Years later, the friends all remember Estrella differently. Fuenzalida remembers her voice; Maldonado dreams about the letters Estrella sent to her (three of which are in the text); Riquelme remembers going to Estrella's house to play Space Invaders and witnessing Estrella's father, a high-ranking officer for Pinochet, remove his wooden prosthetic hand after he got home from work. The narrative eventually winds its way to revealing what happened to Estrella. Fernández's masterstroke is her remarkable structure: the novella is related in fragments that drift and remain unreliable, which evokes the pervasive fear and uncertainty of life under Pinochet. "Time isn't straightforward, it mixes everything up, shuffles the dead, merges them, separates them out again.... Whether we were there or not is no longer clear.... we're left with traces of the dream, like the vestiges of a doomed naval battle." Fernández's outstanding novel explores the nature of memory and dreams, and how after a certain point, they become indistinguishable. (Nov.)


Kirkus Review

Chilean actor and writer Fernndez explores the dark years of the Pinochet dictatorship in this affecting portrait of childhood friendship.Estrella Gonzlez, 10 years old, appears one morning in 1980 at a Santiago school, her right shoe untied, accompanied by a father distinguished by his officer's capa telling detail, for, as Fernndez writes, "the new constitution proposed by the military junta was approved by a broad majority." Outside the doors of the school a totalitarian state flourishes, but within it the children who befriend Estrella, bearing names like Ziga, Donoso, and Maldonado, are innocent of politics, absorbed by the video game of the title and other childhood pursuits. The Pinochet regime was infamous for "disappearing" its opponents, but in this slim novella it is Estrella who disappears: "The desk at the back of the classroom sits empty now. For some reason, the girl never occupies it again." That reason remains hazy, but Estrella reappears in occasional letters and in dreams as her friends grow into young adulthood and take on political lives of their own. Slowly, page after page, the reader learns of the tragedies that beset Estrella, who signs her letters with a starthe meaning of her name in Spanisheven as she reveals bits and pieces of her life: "I should try to obey my dad. He deserves to be obeyed, for me to obey him." Dad has everything to do with Estrella's sudden departure from school and her friends' lives; later, the dictatorship finally ends, but the violence of everyday life continues, lending a tragic end to a story that has hitherto unfolded quietly and with only occasional moments of drama. Like compatriot Alia Trabucco Zern's recently published novel The Remainder, Fernndez takes a sidelong, subtle approach to the grim realities of life in the Chile of her youth, episodes of which, she suggests, figure in her story.A slender story, impressively economical, that speaks volumes about lives torn by repression. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.