Today practically everything can be defined. It’s a good thing for there to be a little novel that can’t be defined.
Born in Buenos Aires in 1974, Iosi Havilio is creating waves in and beyond Argentina. His work has been praised by top Argentine writers and critics including Rodolfo Fogwill and Beatriz Sarlo. Open Door, Havilio’s first novel, has been translated into English and Italian. His second novel is Estocolmo (Stockholm) and his third is Paradises. All three are now published in both Argentina and Spain. Drawing comparisons with writers as diverse as Camus and Houellebecq, critics agree only that Havilio has one of the most unique voices in literature today.
- Translated by Beth Fowler.
- Read more about Paradises in the book section.
- Read Iosi Havilio’s intriguing interview in Latineos (in English).
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Praise for Paradises
- ‘Iosi Havilio has caused a literary storm in Argentina. … His creation is of an inverted “paradise”, urban squalor a pole apart from the gardens of Paradise. It well reflects the inequalities and iniquities left by Argentina’s financial collapse at the turn of this century. This is the aftermath of an apocalypse.’ Amanda Hopkinson, The Independent
- ‘Havilio has found just the right tone and understated register to describe extremity. Paradises takes place in an irresistible, ghostly normality.’ Beatriz Sarlo
- ‘An original voice that does not resort to tried and tested formulae.’ El País
- ‘In contemporary Argentine literature, Paradises is an almost perfect novel.’ Revista Tónica
- ‘In his novels we find the invisible and essential work that only great writers are capable of.’ Fabián Casas, author of Los Lemmings
- ‘This is a novel which follows its own rules, and it works — on its own terms.’ Paula McGrath, Gorse
- ‘… because of this accent on the dystopian, I thoroughly recommend this unusual novel. It is very readable and strangely enjoyable though wickedly weird with its insidious and invidious images… It compels the reader to progress laterally, yet literally, through its pages, all the time feeling rather like one has been invited to [a] very strange costume party.’ Vaughan Rapatahana, Scoop Review of Books
- ‘This sparkling novel is full of contradictions . . . Havilio thus uses his narrator as a vehicle for a wider commentary on the human condition, which questions whether we are really as free as we think we are—what do we control and what controls us?’ Three Percent
- ‘I was drawn to a woman who, though lacking any moral compass, could make me smile with her wryly humorous observations.’ Wendy Smith, Whichbook
- ‘Paradises is pervaded by a dreamlike, grotesque quality at times … it’s almost like a journey into a twisted fairy tale. … Havilio’s style is simple, but hypnotic.’ Tony Malone, tonysreadinglist
- ‘I really enjoyed this book, although I’m not quite sure why or what it’s really all about. It’s beautifully written and translated with a compelling voice from the unnamed narrator that pulled me into the story and made me want to know what would happen next … a highly readable book … one that I found almost impossible to pin down.’ Rachel Ward, A Discount Ticket to Everywhere
- ‘Havilio’s passion lies with the powerless. An inexhaustible stream of eccentric, believable characters, the down-and-out, downtrodden marginal citizens of Buenos Aires, parades through his fiction.’ Nick DiMartino, Shelf Awareness
- ‘I found myself drawn in by the language and my growing anxiety to know what was coming next; whether action or meditation … The voice of Havilio’s narrator has grown on me.’ Michael Johnson, Akanos
- ‘It’s not a difficult read, the translation is excellent and the language is used simply, to create a visual landscape which shifts under your feet, which you can’t trust and need to consider carefully in different ways … For such a simple book, it holds some serious profundity.’ Gareth Buchaillard-Davies, metaliterature
- ‘In some ways this is a story of survival.’ Kate Gardner, Nose in a Book
- ‘A chronicle of events within a life, and the life is not particularly consciously lived. Perhaps this is why Havilio has been compared to Albert Camus; his main character parallels the existential passivity of Mersault in The Outsider… It’s something of a series of dots, which different readers will connect in different ways.’ Adam Ley-Lange, We Love This Book
- ‘I can’t really describe this strange and mesmerizing book any better than the publisher’s do here: “Is this life in the shadows, an underworld of cut-price Christmases, drugs and dealers, or is this simply life?” Oddly, this doesn’t only capture this great Argentine novel, but my most recently celebrated holiday season.’ Literalab
- Translated by Beth Fowler.
- Read more about Open Door in the book section.
- Open Door was read in the And Other Stories Spanish-language Reading Group summer 2010, after being suggested by Paula Porroni.
Praise for Open Door
- ‘Look out for Open Door by the much-praised Iosi Havilio.’ Boyd Tonkin, The Independent
- ‘Iosi Havilio’s remarkable first novel brings news of an intriguing world’ Martin Schifino, The Independent
- ‘With minimalist beauty and exquisite strangeness, Iosi Havilio offers a mesmerising addition to the literature of solitude.’ Chloe Aridjis, author of Asunder
- ‘An ambiguous tale that verges on dark comedy … With skill and subtlety, the novel hints that a whole society might labour under an illusion of liberty.’ The Economist
- ‘Deliberately unshowy, so that plot twists can unfold in the quietest ways.’ Fatema Ahmed, Prospect
- ‘There is a lot of sex and violence in Open Door, but it is never gratuitous. … You have in your hands a masterpiece.’ Oscar Guardiola-Rivera
- ‘There’s no spoiling Open Door, Iosi Havilio’s enigmatic first novel … readers will have a hard time leaving Open Door.’ Review of Contemporary Fiction
- ‘A moving and highly original novel. A good translation is one that convinces as a work in its own right. That is what we get here.’ Margaret Jull Costa, In Other Words (journal of the British Centre for Literary Translation)
- ‘Havilio handles the narrator’s listlessness with remarkable dexterity and maintains the reader’s attention throughout … a novel which will flourish under many re-readings.’ Annabella Massey, Cadaverine
- ‘Open Door really surprised me, it doesn’t obey any of the laws of reading, it feels like it sprang out of nowhere.’ Beatriz Sarlo, Perfil
- ‘Open Door is not a choral novel but a series of solitary songs sung in intimate keys. It contains a tale to mull over, a story not easy to forget.’ El País
- ‘Living, some say, is much easier than thinking about life. This seems to be the almost unconscious guiding force that drives the heroine of Open Door, Iosi Havilio’s first book; a sober, restrained novel through which his mature craft shines.’ Susana Rosana, Clarín
- ‘His opera prima touches nerves in the literature and history of his country, themes such as absence, identity and the conflict between city and country; but the style is unusual, a virtuoso display of muted prose. […] Havilio may well be an attentive reader of Camus: a barely lyrical phrase such as ‘‘I flop onto my back in the grass and the sky renders me speechless’’ recalls The Outsider. […] The internal variety, the technical command, the originality of the setting and the freshness of the voice are all worthy of mention.’ Martin Schifino. Revista del Libro
- ‘Open Door is a confusing, bewildering, riveting book; a paen, of sorts, to both the pursuit of solitude and the futility of that pursuit.’ Eleutherophobia
- ‘The story, despite its setting in peaceful, rural Argentina, takes twists and turns, sways between sanity and insanity, between the want for peace and calm and the search for excitement, and always circles around the void of the big question: what happened to Aïda?’ Rebecca Dewald, Books of the Year 2013, Glasgow Review of Books
- ‘Havilio is a clever writer but he doesn’t forget that, first and foremost, good writing must be readable and enjoyable. This novel is both.’ The Lone Reader
- ‘This surreal novel is both dense enough and short enough to warrant re-readings and will especially appeal to fans of the TV series Twin Peaks.’ Publishers Weekly
- Open Door includes two of my favorite subjects in literature: Argentina and insane asylums.’ Three Percent