Ema the Captive

(Author) (Translator)
Backorder (temporarily out of stock)

Product Details

New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publish Date
4.9 X 0.8 X 6.9 inches | 0.45 pounds
BISAC Categories:

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate

About the Author

CÉSAR AIRA was born in Coronel Pringles, Argentina in 1949, and has lived in Buenos Aires since 1967. He taught at the University of Buenos Aires (about Copi and Rimbaud) and at the University of Rosario (Constructivism and Mallarmé), and has translated and edited books from France, England, Italy, Brazil, Spain, Mexico, and Venezuela. Perhaps one of the most prolific writers in Argentina, and certainly one of the most talked about in Latin America, Aira has published more than 100 books to date in Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Chile, and Spain, which have been translated for France, Great Britain, Italy, Brazil, Portugal, Greece, Austria, Romania, Russia, and the United States. One novel, La prueba, has been made into a feature film, and How I Became a Nun was chosen as one of Argentina's ten best books. Besides essays and novels Aira writes regularly for the Spanish newspaper El País. In addition to winning the 2021 Formentor Prize, he has received a Guggenheim scholarship, and was shortlisted for the Rómulo Gallegos prize and the Booker International Prize.

Chris Andrews was born in Newcastle, Australia, in 1962. He studied at the University of Melbourne and taught there, in the French program, from 1995 to 2008. He also taught at the University of Western Sydney, where he was a member of the Writing and Society Research Center. As well as translating nine books by Roberto Bolano and ten books (and counting) by César Aira, he also brought the French author Kaouther Adimi's Our Riches into English for New Directions. Andrews has won the Valle-Inclán Prize and the French-American Foundation Translation Prize for his translations. Additionally, he has published the critical studies Poetry and Cosmogony: Science in the Writing of Queneau and Ponge and Roberto Bolano's Fiction: An Expanding Universe as well as two collections of poems, Cut Lunch and Lime Green Chair, for which he won the Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize.


"What a gift: to look forward to reading a new Aira novel from New Directions every year for the rest of one's life."--Thomas McGonigle "Ema The Captive "
"Aira is firmly in the tradition of Jorge Luis Borges and W. G. Sebald, those great late modernists for whom fiction was a theater of ideas."--Mark Doty "Ema The Captive "
"A quixotic chemist."--Michael H. Miller "Ema The Captive "
"One of Argentina's leading contemporary writers."--William Skidelsky "Ema The Captive "
"His novels are eccentric clones of reality, where the lights are brighter, the picture is sharper, and everything happens at the speed of thought."--Jacob Mikanowski "Ema The Captive "
"Cesar Aira is Argentina's greatest living author."--Marcela Valdes "Ema The Captive "
"Aira oversteps the bounds of realism, forcing the world to live up to his imagination."--Benjamin Lytal "Ema The Captive "
"Exhilarating. Cesar Aira is the Duchamp of Latin American literature. Aira is one of the most provocative and idiosyncratic novelists working in Spanish today and should not be missed."--Natasha Wimmer "Ema The Captive "
"Aira's cubist eye sees from every angle. the stories in "the Musical Brain" exhibit the continuing narration of Aira's improvisational mind. his characters - whether comic-strip ruffians, apes, subatomic particles or a version of his boyhood self - enter a shifting and tilting landscape of events that unhinge our temporal existence and render it phantasmagorical yet seemingly everyday in the unfolding. His matter-of-fact approach, accepting even the most outlandish episodes, suspends disbelief and encourages one's own sense of displacement, of being released from the commonplace. Hail Cesar!"--Patti Smith "Ema The Captive "
"Aira delivers one surreal unraveling of reality after another that proceeds paradox by paradox into psychic realms."--Michael Upchurch "Ema The Captive "
"Cesar Aira's writing has the freedom of improvisation, but his thought is informed by a coherent if highly personal matrix of concepts."--Michael Eaude "Ema the Captive "
"Once you start reading Aira, you don't want to stop."--Roberto Bolano "Ema The Captive "
Aira's works are dense, unpredictable confections delivered in a plain, stealthily lyrical style capable of accommodating his fondness for mixing metaphysics, realism, pulp fiction, and Dadaist incongruities.--Michael Greenberg
Playing with recycled images, stretching tired tropes until they deform, Aira is fascinated by how defining and describing reality, however absurdly, can end up creating a new reality in that image.
Despite the earliness with which Ema was created in Aira's career, it appears fully realized with its own urgency and odd power. Aira's rigor, which Rivka Galchen has described as one normally reserved for scientific or philosophical inquiry, remains at odds with his characteristic arbitrariness.
Uncanny imagination a la Calvino.--Laura Pearson
Unsettling and elegant parables.
Ema, the Captive creates a world that boldly asks us to rebel against convention, while seeking alternative avenues of thought.--John Gibbs
Aira's works are slim cabinets of wonder, full of unlikely juxtapositions. His unpredictability is masterful.--Rivka Galchen "Ema The Captive "
A Lampoon of our need for narrative. No one today does megafiction like Aira.--Robyn Creswell "Ema The Captive "
Genius. Cesar Aira is a deconstructed Kafka; a compact comprehensible Roberto Bolano obsessed with the frightening nonsense of civilization.--Joe Gallagher "Ema The Captive "
Irreverent inventiveness...without analogue in contemporary literature.--Megan Doll "Ema The Captive "
Aira stresses the sublime without falling back on the props of magical realism.--Cristopher byrd "Ema The Captive "
Cesar Aira is wild. The laws of gravity do not apply.--James S. A. Correy "Ema The Captive "
Cesar Aira is the energizer bunny of Latin American literature.--Tess Lewis "Emma The Captive "
A distinctive hallucinatory style, which blends together reality and fiction, the waking world and the dream world.--Chloe Schama "Ema The Captive "
"Ema" is as inventive and aphoristic as Aira's best works.--Alena Graedon
This prolific Argentine writer has inspired a cult following.--Scott Esposito "Ema The Captive "
I get so absorbed by an Aira novel that upon finishing I don't remember anything. It's like having a complex cinematic dream that dissipates upon awakening.--Patti Smith "Ema The Captive "
Cesar Aira's body of work is a perfect machine for invention.--Maria Moreno "Ema The Captive "
Aira's novel delivers a truly unique contribution to literature.--Diego Baez
In this magical little Frisbee of a novel by the prolific Argentine, a kidnapped woman seduces her captors in a fort at the edge of civilization, turning the tables on their power.
An elegant, almost ethereal story of one woman's survival.
This sidelong way of looking at Kafka is uniquely rewarding, eschewing the organizing and narrative principles of biography just as Kafka himself so often eschewed the organizing and narrative principles of fiction.--Morten Høi Jensen
César Aira is the undisputed master of the short philosophical novel--and he manages to churn out a new one every few years. Like all of his books, Ema the Captive is an ideal place to start reading Aira. This story of an Argentinian woman's time as a captive concubine is a powerful novel worth reading ASAP.--Lucas Iberico Lozada
"Logic-defying brilliance."--Ema The Captive
"Everything in Aira has that Mad Scientist feel to it."--Ema The Captive
"Aira seems fascinated by the idea of storytelling as invention, invention as improvisation, and improvisation as transgression, as getting away with something."--Ema The Captive
"Argentine author Cesar Aira is an exquisite miniaturest who toys with avant-garde techniques. His work has drawn comparisons to Vladimir Nabokov and Italo Calvino for its gleeful literary gamesmanship and stories-within-stories."--Ema The Captive
Aira's literature is but a parody of inventiveness, and at its core is an amazing degree of penetrating and unrelenting critical reflexivity.--Nicolás Guagnini
Ema, the Captive is a gentle meditation on the natural world in its grotesqueness and its beauty, humanity's place within it, and the effect that human progress has had on both. With his usual incredible attention to detail and in measured, lucid prose, Aira somehow turns this tale into a page-turner, the kind of feat only he could accomplish.--Justin Souther