You Dreamed of Empires: A Novel (Hardcover)
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"Enrigue’s genius lies in his ability to bring readers close to its tangled knot of priests, mercenaries, warriors and princesses while adding a pinch of biting humor." --Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Los Angeles Times
“Riotously entertaining... A triumph of solemnity-busting erudition and mischievous invention that will delight and titillate.” --Financial Times
From the visionary author of Sudden Death, a hallucinatory, revelatory colonial revenge story.
One morning in 1519, conquistador Hernán Cortés enters the city of Tenochtitlan – today's Mexico City. Later that day, he will meet the emperor Moctezuma in a collision of two worlds, two empires, two languages, two possible futures.
Cortés is accompanied by his captains, his troops, his prized horses, and his two translators: Friar Aguilar, a taciturn friar, and Malinalli, an enslaved, strategic Nahua princess. After nearly bungling their entrance fo the city, the Spaniards are greeted at a ceremonial welcome meal by the steely Aztec princess Atotoxtli, sister and wife of Moctezuma. As they await their meeting with the emperor – who is at a political and spiritual crossroads, and relies on hallucinogens to get by – Cortés and his entourage are ensconced in the labyrinthine palace. Soon, one of Cortés’s captains, Jazmín Caldera, overwhelmed by the grandeur of the place, begins to question the ease with which they were welcomed into the city, and wonders at the chances of getting out alive, much less conquering the empire. And what if... they don't?
You Dreamed of Empires brings Tenochtitlan to life at its height, and reimagines its destiny. The incomparably original Álvaro Enrigue sets afire the moment of conquest and turns it into a moment of revolution, a restitutive, fantastical counterattack, in a novel so electric and so unique that it feels like a dream.
About the Author
Álvaro Enrigue is a Mexican writer who was a Cullman Center Fellow and a Fellow at the Princeton University Program in Latin American Studies. He has taught at New York University, Princeton University, the University of Maryland, and Columbia University. His work has appeared in The New York Times, n+1, London Review of Books, and El País, among others. His books include Sudden Death, and have been awarded the Herralde Prize, the Barcelona Prize, and the Poniatowska Prize. He lives in New York with his family and teaches Latin American Literature at Hofstra University.
Natasha Wimmer’s translations include Álvaro Enrigue’s Sudden Death, Nona Fernández’s Space Invaders and The Twilight Zone, and Roberto Bolaño’s The Savage Detectives and 2666. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Praise for You Dreamed of Empires
"Enrigue’s genius lies in his ability to bring readers close to its tangled knot of priests, mercenaries, warriors and princesses while adding a pinch of biting humor."
-- Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Los Angeles Times
"Enrigue’s work is marked by an all-consuming attention to historical detail.... He is a preternaturally entertaining and erudite writer who builds alternate worlds from the minutiae. He also seems like he’s having a pretty good time."
-- Benjamin Russell, New York Times
“Incantatory... Enrigue conjures both court intrigue and city life with grace.”
-- The New Yorker
“[S]ublime absurdities... abound in this delirious historical fantasia, which can be said to be many things: funny, ghastly, eye-opening, marvelous and frequently confounding.”
-- Wall Street Journal
“Riotously entertaining...Enrigue revels in the salacious and the scatological, serving up a sensory feast. All praise for the translator, who has so magnificently grappled with multiple layers of language. As in her rendition of Enrigue’s encyclopedic novel Sudden Death, Natasha Wimmer brilliantly brings the author’s playfulness and idiomatic humour to life for an English-language readership. The result is a triumph of solemnity-busting erudition and mischievous invention that will delight and titillate.”
-- Financial Times
"[S]hort, strange, spiky and sublime. It’s a historical novel, a great speckled bird of a story, set in 1519 in what is now Mexico City. Empires are in collision and the vibe is hallucinatory.... Enrigue, who is clearly a major talent, has delivered a humane comedy of manners that is largely about paranoia (is today the day my head will be lopped off?) and the quotidian bummers of life, even if you are powerful beyond belief."
-- Dwight Garner, New York Times
"An alternate history of Mexican conquest, with a Tarantino-ready twist.... Deliciously gonzo.... Rendered in earthy, demotic, wryly unhistorical English by translator Natasha Wimmer... Enrigue’s antic style is high-minded, richly detailed, vulgar and sophisticated all at once — reminiscent of the films of Peter Greenaway or Derek Jarman."
-- Washington Post
"[A] story built on what-ifs.... In his hallucinatory prose, anything could happen."
-- Los Angeles Review of Books
"Enrigue proves supremely capable of subverting in service to the story about colonization and societal power.”
-- Chicago Review of Books
“Throughout the book, Enrigue (and in English his excellent translator, Natasha Wimmer) boldly uses modern language to recreate the past.... Parts of the novel play like an Aztec West Wing, taking us deep into the political manoeuvrings of the royal court but blending its particularities with 21st-century psychology. It’s a rich approach that achieves a hallucinatory vividness.”
--The Guardian (UK)
“Enrigue sustains a seductive yet ominous tone that evokes a persistent threat of violence, and he caps things off with a dizzying climactic scene that offers an alternative to the historical record and dovetails with the book’s heavy dose of hallucinogens. Flexing his narrative muscle, Enrigue brings the past to vivid, brain-melting life.” --Publishers Weekly
“The irony and wit Enrigue brings to the story is entirely his own. An offbeat, well-turned riff on anti-colonialist themes.” --Kirkus Reviews