I can’t say that I’d put Ways to Disappear into your hand and tell you “you have to read this.” It just wasn’t that book for me.
What it is: a beautifully written book about a Brazilian author who goes missing, last seen climbing into a tree with a suitcase and vanishing, and the American translator who comes to Brazil to search for her. You get the literary meta-ness of a writer (Novey) writing about an author and her translator, the texts that they share and the stories they put out-the author’s in Portuguese, the author/translator’s in English-into the world. When she gets to Rio, the translator begins to question: how well does she really know this author whose work she has lived, breathed, and worked on for years, with whom she has spent much time lingering over exacting words, discussing the fabric of her stories? Where does the author draw the line between herself and the characters she creates? How can the translator “read” the act of the author’s disappearance? When you’ve put a body of writing out into the world, do you ever really disappear?
While I didn’t love this book, I did enjoy it. I appreciated the elegant writing, the story, the characters, and the thoughts it provoked.