City Lights Booksellers & Publishers's Reviews > The Scale of Maps

The Scale of Maps by Belén Gopegui
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's review
Dec 08, 2010

it was amazing
Read from January 19 to March 07, 2011

"It’s an ambitious novel, to be sure, made beautiful by Gopegui’s liquid prose, and made accessible by her ultimate refusal to answer her own questions." --Janet Potter, Bookslut

"'Trembling' is how protagonist Sergio Prim first appears to the reader. 'His hands fluttered like a bashful magician’s,' the Spaniard Belen Gopegui writes of her fictional creation. Gopegui’s first novel, The Scale of Maps, is a story about a magic trick that Prim never quite masters, an ambitious disappearing act that ends in irredeemable failure. After all, as another character, the enchanting mapmaker Brezo Varela, warns Prim, 'the problem with escape artists is that they never escape.'
". . . Who is this strange man charting a fantastical, solitary course? Gopegui has been compared to Cervantes and Nabokov, and it’s easy to see Prim as a kind of windmill-battling Pnin. Prim’s labyrinthine imaginings could easily place him in a work of Borges as well.
". . . Mark Schafer’s agile translation gives Prim the fitting voice of a polished academic who has lost his bearings. 'The man who examines his own love is like the merchant who sells perishable foods,' Prim suggests inscrutably. Is the reader to understand that Prim’s survival depends on his ability to shill the ripened fruits of his passion before they spoil? And to whom is he selling the harvest of his inspection? It’s just one of many alluring metaphors that quietly collapse upon inspection, evading scrutiny."
--Words without Borders

"Map scales are about relationships. So is 'The Scale of Maps,' a poignant, provocative, profound and passionate book by respected Spanish writer Belén Gopegui."
--The Kansas City Star,

"A geographer falls irredeemably in love with a flighty mapmaker in this graceful, peculiar Spanish tale . . . beautifully composed and elegantly translated."
--Publishers Weekly
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