Ordesa by Manuel Vilas
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Featured on The Thread: 'Ordesa' is a difficult read — but stick with it
A man at a crossroads in the middle of his life considers the place where he’s from, and where his parents have recently died. In the face of enormous personal tumult, he sits down to write. What follows is an audacious chronicle of his childhood and an unsparing account of his life’s trials, failures, and triumphs that becomes a moving look at what family gives and takes away.
With the intimacy of a diarist, he reckons with the ghosts of his parents and the current specters of his divorce, his children, his career, and his addictions. In unswervingly honest prose, Vilas explores his identity after great loss—what is a person without a marriage or without parents? What is a person when faced with memories alone? Already an acclaimed poet and novelist in Spain, Vilas takes his work to a whole new level with this autobiographical novel; critics have called it “a work of art able to cauterize pain.”
Elegiac and searching, Ordesa is a meditation on loss and a powerful exploration of a person who is both extraordinary and utterly ordinary—at once singular and representing us all—who transforms a time of crisis into something beautiful and redemptive.