From one of Granta’s Best Young Brazilian Novelists comes a startling and powerful story about returning to one’s origins in order to move forward.
In Rio de Janeiro, a woman suffering from a mysterious illness, which is eroding her body and mind, decides to accept a challenge from her grandfather: to take the key to the house where he grew up — in the Turkish city of Smyrna — and open the door.
As she embarks on this pilgrimage, she begins to write of her progress. The writing soon becomes an exploration of her family’s legacy of displacement in Europe, told in several narrative strands. Sifting through family stories — her grandfather’s migration from Turkey to Brazil, her parents’ exile in Portugal under the Brazilian military dictatorship, her mother’s death, and her own love affair with a violent man — she traces her family’s history in a journey to make sense of the past and to understand her place in it.
With an epic sweep of time and place — traversing Brazil, Turkey, and Portugal — this is a profoundly moving portrait of a young woman finding her way back into life. Spare, heartfelt, and evocative, The House in Smyrna is an unforgettable story from one of the most accomplished and original new voices in Brazil.
‘Levy’s writing is a joy … Her prose is rich, filled with a sense of the vividness and generosity of an author’s available inspirations: the clamour of the senses, the restless truths of the body, the turns and consolations and perils of thought, the wonders of both beauty and ugliness and the meaning and architecture of words themselves.’
A.L. Kennedy, Granta (UK)
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‘Teasing … Levy has crafted a puzzling, disturbing story that at times leaves the reader feeling blindfolded in a maze.’
Suzi Feay, Financial Times
‘This is a novel about reconciliation and finding one's own place in the world, but the precise shades of its meaning are elusive, glimpsed hazily through deceptively simple prose which manages to be both unflinching and enigmatic all at once.’
‘[A] beautiful book, acute and deeply felt, every word earned and revealing.’ Pick of the Week
Cameron Woodhead, The Age
‘The reader is inevitably drawn into Tatiana’s gravitational field, much like Lewis Carroll’s Alice. A stunning and creative narrator.’
'With Tatiana Salem Levy, everything comes directly from the heart: pain, love, desire, death. A breathtaking novel.'
La Liberté (France)
‘A wonderful autobiographical saga.’
‘With intimate prose, combining delicacy and vigor, she is an outstanding voice in new Brazilian literature. If you haven’t read her yet, you’re missing out!’
O Globo (Brazil)
‘Light-footed and subtle.’
Stefan Tobler, The Independent