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chinese checkers
(damas chinas)

A gynecologist combines the neat practice of his profession with regular visits to brothels. A boy with a head of "somewhat abnormal dimensions" tells the gynecologist the story of an old woman touched with a crown, while he waits for his mother in the waiting room. There is neither space nor time, but only past events narrated in a distant, distant present, in which the memories of the relationships between individuals and the emptiness they entail are articulated: the relationship of the gynecologist with his wife, with his work, with his children, with the patients, with a child, with his lovers, with the disease, with money, with his own parents...

A life narrated from skepticism, where the absence of judgment keeps the reader in suspense, trying to grasp the meaning of the universe, of the fears and the glories. The direct exposition, without sentimentalism of any kind, without action, leaves the reader without handles. A mysterious and disturbing novel, yet another exponent of the silent literature in which the dialogue between characters and the narrator's presence has disappeared, and so has the past. With an austere and refined style, of a cold and enigmatic beauty, Mario Bellatin intrigues and surprises the reader, without revealing the mysteries that surround the characters. The brushstrokes that make up this book, which does not follow any logical or chronological order, become clear within the same disorder, just as the marginal, amoral and extravagant of this world is understood in relation to everyday life and normality. There is no trace of commiseration, only an existential void where imagination is presented as the only possible liberating path.


"There is much to admire in Bellatin's work: a diabolical art of construction, an elegant and anorexic treatment of language."

—Alan Pauls

"One does not come out unscathed from such a reading. Or rather, from this experience"

—Frédéric Vitoux, Le Nouvel Observateur

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