The Love of Singular Men by Victor Heringer trans James Young
Camilo is a middle-class boy growing up in the sweltering suburbs of 1970s Rio de Janeiro, during Brazil's often brutal military dictatorship. Disabled by monoparesis, he lives a sheltered life under the blistering sun, rarely venturing beyond his own back garden. But his predictable existence is interrupted when his father, a doctor complicit in the torture of political prisoners, brings home an orphan, Cosme, to live with the family. Who is this boy? What is he doing here? Camilo instinctively hates him but this hate soon turns to love, before, in an echo of the violence and intolerance of the society around them, their happiness is tragically cut short.
Narrated by the older Camilo, living alone in his childhood neighbourhood and haunted by his past, this short yet hugely ambitious novel by Jabuti Prize-winning author Victor Heringer (1988-2018) is marked by a dazzling linguistic inventiveness that brings everything from the smells of the Rio streets to the heat of the boys' skin vividly to life. In it, Heringer combines an incisive exploration of Brazilian social and political issues with a moving account of first love, first grief and revenge, to make The Love of Singular Men a coming of age love story like no other - always visceral, often humorous, and never less than deeply moving.
"When you read something genuinely new it's hard to describe it - you end up settling for comparisons - and The Love of Singular Men is truly a singular novel. It's ingenious like Cortazar or Nabokov, elliptical like Grace Paley, funny like Donald Barthelme. Upon finishing it you want to immediately meet the young man who wrote it, shake him vigorously by the hand and congratulate him on the beginning of a brilliant career. But Victor Heringer is gone. He left this beautiful book behind." --Zadie Smith
‘The Love of Singular Men is an electrifying, passionate piece of writing - unlike anything I’ve read. Most novels are, at base, very responsible pieces of work. Not headstrong or wayward. They don’t allow themselves the excursions and incoherences that life is full of. But Victor Heringer’s writing manages to pull off the miraculous feat of simultaneously playing constant truant to itself and being entirely present and focussed, first line to last. I don’t know how this was achieved (and also in this fantastic translation by James Young), but I’m very glad it was. What a loss. What a book.’ --Toby Litt
Imprint: Peirene Press
Publication Date: 11/7/23