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The Sickness
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The Sickness

by Alberto Barrera Tyszka
Translated by Margaret Jull Costa

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Ernesto Durán is convinced he is sick. It becomes an obsession far exceeding hypochondria, and when Dr Andrés Miranda gives up responding to his letters and e-mails, Durán resolves to stalk him. The fixation has its own creeping effect on Karina, the hospital secretary, who cannot resist becoming involved.

Meanwhile Dr Miranda is coming to terms with a tragedy of his own: his father has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and yet the doctor – the son – finds it im-possible to tell him. He hopes that by taking his father on a trip to Isla Margarita, where they once went when he was a child, he might be able to reveal the truth.

The nature of sickness as experienced by two individuals provides the backbone to this tender, thoughtful and refined novel. The Sickness is profound and philosophical, and yet written with an agility that expresses the tragedy, but also the comedy of life itself. A brilliantly achieved first novel.

‘A delicate piece of craftsmanship … A small great work’ Juan Carlos Palma, Mercurio.

‘Driven by an urgent narrative pulse and a great fluency of style… it will touch the heart of many readers for its sensitive and balanced exposition of the fundamental problems of the human condition’ Angel Basanta, El Mundo.

‘A calmly paced novel unafraid to linger in scenes long enough to realize their potential, but never so long that they become tedious … The Sickness is refreshingly clean in its storytelling yet very complex in character’ Anthony Furey, Times Literary Supplement.

‘Tyszka is a perceptive, original writer. He has brought an unusually sophisticated understanding to a wonderfully intense, little novel. No sentimentality, no polemic, just emotion at its most resonant’ Eileen Battersby, Irish Times.

‘This is a short, tersely written novel that distances and invades us at the same time. Powerful themes and powerful writing [does] not let you off or let you down’ Susan Hill, Lady.

‘Written in direct and lyrical prose, The Sickness promises to place Tyszka at the front rank of new Latin American writers, and, in its poignant dissection of middle-class malaise and familial dynamics, establishes him with a claim to be the Venezuelan Ian McEwan’ Booktrust Translated Fiction.

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