The Musical Brain: And Other Stories

(Author) (Translator)

Product Details

$29.95  $27.85
New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publish Date
6.14 X 7.09 X 1.18 inches | 0.94 pounds
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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.

The poet and translator Chris Andrews has won the Valle Inclan Prize and the French-American Translation Prize for his work.


Everything in Aira has that Mad Scientist feel to it.
Wildly Funny.
An Aesop in Breton's clothing.--Thomas Hachard
Cerebral, witty, fanciful and idiosyncratic.--Aura Estrada
Aira oversteps the bounds of realism, forcing the world to live up to his imagination.--Benjamin Lytal
Aira delivers one surreal unraveling of reality after another that proceeds paradox by paradox into psychic realms--Michael Upchurch
Surreal, witty, and funny.
Aira stresses the sublime without falling back on the props of magical realism--Cristopher Byrd
The first collection of Aira's stories might be his masterpiece.
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
Aira seems fascinated by the idea of storytelling as invention, invention as improvisation, and improvisation as transgression, as getting away with something.
Aira conjures a languorous, surreal atmosphere of baking heat and quietly menacing shadows that puts one in mind of a painting by de Chirico.
This prolific Argentine writer has inspired a cult following.--Scott Esposito
Logic-defying brilliance.
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
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
One of the most celebrated authors in Latin America.
A quixotic chemist.--Michael H. Miller
The novelist who can't be stopped. Aira's novels are dense, unpredictable confections delivered in plain, stealthily lyrical style capable of accommodating his fondness for mixing metaphysics, realism, pulp fiction, and Dadaist incongruities.--Michael Greenberg
A distinctive hallucinatory style, which blends together reality and fiction, the waking world and the dream world--Chloe Schama
Uncanny imagination a la Calvino.--Laura Pearson
Unsettling and elegant parables.
Aira's works are like slim cabinets of wonder, full of unlikely juxtapositions. His unpredictability is masterful.--Rivka Galchen
South America's answer to Haruki Murikami.--Andrew Irvin
A lampoon of our need for narrative. No one today does megafiction like Aira.--Robyn Creswell
Astonishing-turns Don Quixote into Picasso.
Aira's novels parody narrative form, destroy normal cause and effect, and contain bold conceptual dialogues.--Michael Eaude
Irreverent inventiveness...without analogue in contemporary literature--Megan Doll
Once you start reading Aira, you don't want to stop.--Roberto Bolaño
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 César!--Patti Smith
Exhilarating. César 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
César Aira is Argentina's greatest living author.--Marcela Valdes
César Aira's body of work is a perfect machine for invention.--Maria Moreno
Argentine author César Aira is an exquisite miniaturist 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.
Outlandish B-movie fantasies are all part of the game. His best-known works are nonsensically hysterical. To love César Aira you must have a taste for the absurd, a tolerance for the obscurely philosophical, and a willingness to laugh out loud against your better judgment.--Marcela Valdes
César Aira is the energizer bunny of Latin American literature.--Tess Lewis
Genius. César Aira is a deconstructed Kafka; a compact comprehensible Roberto Bolaño obsessed with the frightening nonsense of civilization.--Joe Gallagher
César Aira is wild. The laws of gravity do not apply.--James S. A. Correy
César Aira's novels are the narrative equivalent of the Exquisite Corpse, that surrealist parlor game in which players add to drawings or stories without knowledge of previous or subsequent additions. Wildly heterogeneous elements are thrown together, and the final result never fails to surprise and amuse. Aira is wacky enough to play the game by himself, but the reader isn't left out either.