In this multi-award-winning autobiographical novel, Cristovão Tezza draws his readers into the mind of a young father whose son, Felipe, is born with Down syndrome. From the initial shock of diagnosis, and through his growing understanding of the world of hospitals and therapies, Tezza threads the story of his son’s life with his own.
Felipe, who lives in an eternal present, becomes a remarkable young man; for Tezza, however, the story is a settling of accounts with himself and his own limitations and, ultimately, a coming to terms with the sublime ironies and arbitrariness of life. He struggles with the phantom of shame, as if his son’s condition were an indication of his own worth, and yearns for a ‘normal’ world that is always out of reach.
Reading this compelling book is like stumbling through a trap door into the writer’s mind, where nothing is censored, and everything is constantly examined and reinterpreted. What emerges is a hard-won philosophy of everyday life.
It is extraordinary to encounter a common human drama — the birth of a disabled child — investigated profoundly by a father who happens to be a gifted writer. The Eternal Son is an honest and insightful story by one of Brazil’s foremost contemporary novelists, here beautifully translated by Alison Entrekin. It is world literature at its finest.
‘The Eternal Son requires the dedicated reader, not because it describes the relationship between a gifted father and a handicapped son, but because it does so in painstaking, often painful, detail. Classified as a novel, for which Tezza won every major fiction award in Brazil in 2008, it is more an extended essay. (Australian-born Alison Entrekin is the prize-winning translator). Rarely does writing in the third person seem so poignantly autobiographical.’
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‘In his autobiographical novel, Brazilian author Tezza applies unflinching honesty and a writer's inquisitiveness to the story of his gradual acceptance of his own son ... A remarkable tale of a father finding humility.’
‘Felipe grows and so, we see, does his father … The reader, once challenged and repulsed, becomes sympathetic, feels privileged. This is, in the end, a deeply moving portrait of a father truly loving the son he has.’
Sunday Express, UK
‘This excellent book, which has won every major Brazilian literary prize, describes the reactions of a young man to the birth and growth of his son, a child with Down syndrome ... The ruminatory style is never static or suffocating, and although the father can be said to learn and grow (as does his son), Tezza doesn't embarrass us or cheapen the material by signpointing a moral journey. He doesn't try to move us, either, and the book doesn't treat us to an emotional splurge as a reward for enduring the confronting subject matter: but it is highly intelligent, drily humorous, and beautifully written (and translated, by Australian-born Alison Entrain).’
Owen Richardson, The Age
‘Often confronting and uncomfortable, The Eternal Son explores lives and emotions rarely touched on. Significantly, Tezza does so without wallowing in pity or in a self-righteous sense of overcoming adversity.’
Jose Borghino, The Australian
‘Drawing on his own experiences, Brazilian Cristovao gives us an acute and sometimes brutal look into the mind of a young father whose first son is born with Down Syndrome ... It is easy to see why this book attracted a slew of awards...’
The Dominion Post Weekend