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Ways to Disappear

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  2,873 Ratings  ·  514 Reviews
Deep in gambling debt, the celebrated Brazilian writer Beatriz Yagoda is last seen holding a suitcase and a cigar and climbing into an almond tree. She abruptly vanishes.

In snowy Pittsburgh, her American translator Emma hears the news and, against the wishes of her boyfriend and Beatriz's two grown children, flies immediately to Brazil. There, in the sticky, sugary heat of
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published February 9th 2016 by Little, Brown and Company
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Clarence Haynes Metaphorically speaking, we do have the capability to disappear into our own self, for all glory and oneness with all is inside. I you chose to become…moreMetaphorically speaking, we do have the capability to disappear into our own self, for all glory and oneness with all is inside. I you chose to become lost and disappear in the recess of mind, we just become a body with no mind, we still breathe, but because we have gone inside, we will have to be taken care of. i.e fed, change diapers, bathed and all the functions we would normally do if we had our mind.
Imagine this, what if movie makers had the capability to include all 5 senses, and were able to synchronising them, where we would chose the character, our mind and conscious along with our awareness, we lose our self, we would no longer be conscious of the self. As long as the movie stayed on that is where we would be, but in the outside state, there would sit a human body, the brain functions would still be operating, there would no existence of time.. (less)

Community Reviews

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Feb 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: best-last-line
Since finishing this story in mid-February, it has haunted me: more my rating and feelings of ambivalence about something so beautiful and unique (but also confusing and odd), than the story itself. This is a story that I found to be oxymoronic: at times shockingly beautiful sentences combined to form a silly story that seemed forgettable...except that I keep thinking about it. I'm thinking about what I missed more than the actual story though. I practically re-read this a few weeks ago searchin ...more
Oct 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, 2015
3.5 stars

Idra Novey is a poet, and this is her debut novel. It's no surprise that it's beautifully written, filled with stark images and lyrical prose. The story itself is quite fast-paced, starting with the disappearance of a writer and following her translator as she ventures to South America to search for the missing author with the help of the author's children.

Emma is a divisive protagonist. She is literally divided between two worlds, between lovers and between languages. I find it more in
Feb 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
“Ways to Disappear is a humorous mystery novel whose protagonist is an American woman in Brazil, searching for the woman whose novels she translates into English. The author utilizes hilarity, magical realism, stories within stories, imagery, and subtleties of word meaning to create her lovable, lyrical, beautiful novel.

Emma, the protagonist, feels very close to her author, Beatriz Yagoda, through her works as well as her yearly visits with her. Once she hears that Beatriz has disappeared, seemi
Dec 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book was weird. Though it could read as a mystery, it isn't a typical whodunit or cozy or whatever the right term is for a mysterious disappearance of a famed and respected Brazilian author and the subsequent search for her. The story author, Beatriz Yagoda, has written a number of highly regarded books, has two grown children, and a long term working relationship with the translator Emma, living in Pittsburgh.

The book's author, Idra Novey, has written a beautiful, poetic, dream-like at tim
Lark Benobi
Apr 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
I read this novel for the second time this weekend, and found it to be even more a pleasure than the first time I read it. The novel is propelled forward by a story that has the momentum of a thriller, but even so, interstitially, almost magically within this rapid-fire plot, Novey finds a way to explore many aspects of how great fiction happens: the role an author's life plays in her fictions; the relationship between author and editor; the gap between what is on the page and what the author me ...more
Mar 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
“Reality doesn't impress me. I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another. No more walls.”

----Anaïs Nin

Idra Novey, an American author, pens her debut entertaining literary fiction, Ways to Disappear which is part mystery and part family drama where the main story is centered upon a famous Brazilian author who goes missing under strange circumstances, and due to her disappearance, her American translator travels to Rio to find he
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"She wasn't visible anymore, or not until she disappeared"

Novey is an established poet and translator, and this is her first published work of fiction. I found Ways to Disappear a pure delight, but warning: this book is not for everyone (reading the reviews, they seem to fall into roughly two categories: those who loved, or at least appreciated, Novey's poeticism and satirical, magical realist vision; and those who felt this book was a waste of time.

Ways to Disappear is kind of about something,
Feb 12, 2016 rated it did not like it
I attended a launch party for this book earlier this week and came out of it full of good will towards the author. Alas, I see no merit in this slim story that goes nowhere. A Brazilian writer goes missing, after last being seen smoking a cigar up a tree. Her young American translator immediately flies to Rio to help in the search, promptly goes to bed with the writer's son and fights with her daughter. It becomes clear very quickly that Beatriz had huge gambling debts and the hapless trio is go ...more
Dec 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, often w pencil in hand as I noticed puzzles and patterns. A review will follow.
Dov Zeller
This is a strange, gripping, and beautiful novel. I am a Clarice person, and so, found it particularly of interest, as it is a highly fictionalized exploration of Lispector's life. Or, I'm saying that wrong. This is a book of fiction that explores, from certain angles, Lispector's mystique. There are questions in here that revolve around her particular mannerisms.

In some ways this is a book built entirely of the raw material of questions.

What does it mean to be an author? A translator? What do
Jan 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2018, brazil
Absurd, amusing, dreamy, and sometimes quite beautiful. 3.5 stars.

For so long, she'd willfully sought the in-between. She'd thought of herself as fated to live suspended, floating between two countries, in the vapor between languages. But too much vaporous freedom brought its own constraints. She now felt as confined by her floating state as other, more wholesome people were to the towns where they were born.
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
This little novel was a pleasant surprise. I read it because Idra Novey is a translator of books from Spanish and Portuguese into English and I had read that the story involves a translator. That turns out to be Emma, the main character.

The tale opens with the disappearance of Emma's Brazilian author, Beatriz Yogoda. This author wrote stunning novels but was a bad mother, addicted to gambling. Her debts have caught up with her and an unsavory moneylender is after her.

Beatriz climbed into an alm
Renita D'Silva
Oct 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful. Magical. Enchanting. Unique. Stunning writing. Loved it.
timothy ree
Sep 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Finished this novel in just two sittings - a wonderfully fast-paced mystery / a love story / a detective novel almost / and a meditation on writing fiction and the equally important work of translation. The ending is haunting, magical. The writing is spare, the images precise; you feel you're in good hands with a poet, a prose poet this time. A gorgeous first novel.
Jun 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was not a typical read for me. I admire experimental writing, but usually don’t take to it easily, and I’ve never cared for mysteries. But Novey won me over with her imaginative digressions, playful structure, and the yearning she infused in each of her characters. And behind the story is an exploration of writing and translating, full of surprising and poetic insights:

“For so long, she’d willfully sought the in-between. She’d thought of herself as fated to live suspended, floating between
Jan 26, 2016 rated it liked it
[3.5 stars]

Feeling slumpy? Need a quick, can’t-turn-the-pages-fast-enough read? Look no further! Poet, turned novelist, Idra Novey’s latest will save the day. (My next career will obviously be scripting infomercials).

For real though, Novey takes a plot we’ve all seen before (i.e. missing mother), and twists it around into something completely new. Author and mother of two, Beatriz is last seen smoking a cigar and climbing into a tree, following which she mysteriously disappears. Upon hearing th
I'd reccomend this to those who love Victoria Schwab, Tahereh Mafi and A.S. King's writing.

The writing is so vibrant. It was wonderously difficult to infer what the characters would say or do next. I was delightfully surprised by this colorful narrative set in Brazil. While the events that occurred seem rather unlikely, the characters highlight realistic issues in the family, within one's personal life and within our social interactions. The novel's peculiarities makes these realities more vivid
Robert Blumenthal
Jun 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Great book. It is a quick read, with very short chapters and some clever asides. It is the story of a translator who goes down to Brazil to find out what happened to the novelist that she has been translating for years. While down there she becomes embroiled with bad guys who are owed a lot of money due to the author's compulsive online gambling. The translator teams up with the son and daughter of the author to try to find their mother and to find some way to pay her debt. Along the way she rea ...more
Shawn Mooney
Idra Novey is a fantastic writer, and I'd maybe be up for trying another very different novel by her down the road. But I quit this one in disgust at the 60% mark: it was relying increasingly on mystery novel conventions, which I loath more than just about anything in my reading life. Hate hate hated where this book was going. I feel ill from those last few pages, and am so glad to have bailed.
Lisa Hayden Espenschade
May 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone but especially readers interested in translators and translation
Recommended to Lisa by: reviews? author interview
From my blog: I loved Idra Novey’s Ways to Disappear. She had me with her first sentence: “In a crumbling park in the crumbling back end of Copacabana, a woman stopped under an almond tree with a suitcase and a cigar.” Whether it was the repetition of “crumbling,” the combination of the suitcase and the cigar, or the thought of almonds, which I enjoy eating on just about anything, yes, dear reader, I bought the book. In hardcover. I had to find out what happens when American translator Emma Neuf ...more
Kristina Aziz
Sep 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
I got this book for free by winning it from the Goodreads Firstreads giveaways.

I love this book. I LOVE this book. Here's why I love this book:

The cover
The smell
the story
the characters
the format
the short chapters so I can read without losing my place at work
The definitions sprinkled throughout the book
the mystery
The little media updates throughout the book

Things that I less-than-loved:

The main character writing. I thought more would happen with it. I don't understand. What was the point?

Dec 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a wonderful first novel by Idra Novey. Strange and fast paced, this was a book I couldn't put down!
Feb 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: readharder2018
4.5 stars.

“And wasn’t the splendor of translation this very thing - to discover sentences this beautiful and then have the chance to make someone else hear their beauty who had yet to hear it? To arrive, at least once, at a moment this intimate and singular, which would not be possible without these words arranged in this order on this page?”

I adored this beautiful and clever novel. What poetic prose, and just so well done. The story at first reminded me of Where’d You Go, Bernadette? A famous B
Robert Wechsler
An excellent piece of summer reading that’s on the literary side, because it involves an American literary translator trying to help find her Brazilian author, who has disappeared. It’s breezy yet serious, superficial yet thought-provoking. A 3.5.
Jamise // Spines & Vines
Jan 21, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016-reads
Poet Idra Novey delivers a debut novel that is part mystery, part romance sprinkled with some humor. The story begins with the disappearance of a famous Brazilian author, Beatriz Yagoda, who is last seen in an almond tree with a suitcase and a cigar. I immediately thought I'm not going to finish this book. However, I was pleasantly surprised that Novey lured me in with her words and I kept devouring the story. Ultimately the search for Beatriz turns into the search of self discovery, love and gr ...more
Erika Dreifus
This is a *wonderful* read, and I'd meant to pick it up long before now. I moved it ahead on the tbr queue because it is a finalist for the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature (, and I'm trying to read as many of those finalist titles ahead of the award ceremony on May 3. (Before the finalists were announced, I'd read only Rebecca Schiff's The Bed Moved.)

But I have to say that here we have another example of a book being deemed/honored for being "Jewish
Jan 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads, fiction
This was a fast read. I always seem to read faster when the chapters are short. This is the first novel written by Idra Novey, who is a poet. This is a fast paced book. The writing is wonderful. She draws the reader in quickly. This book is fiction, but it does include mystery and a little bit of romance. The ending was not what I expected. This is an excellent read.

From the cover: A debut novel about the disappearance of a famous Brazilian novelist and the young translator who turns her life u
Dan White
Apr 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The book achieves something I did not know was possible -- it is literary and full of wonderfully madcap sentences, it is written with great economy and poetic compression, and yet the whole thing gallops along. In other words it never collapses from cleverness or bogs down in its own beauty. You will find yourself devouring the whole thing in one sitting, and then going back after realizing you've missed or misplaced or misread a number of things. (That, at least, is what happened to me.). It i ...more
Bree Hill
Feb 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a fast paced read that had me invested from the start. The chapters are short which is a Gift and a curse. You may have to reread at times to follow what's going on. The writing is absolutely beautiful though and really focuses on the importance of words and interpretation and choosing words carefully. Highly recommend.
Carol Peters
Mar 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Perfect. Truly remarkably spare, sparse, dense, delicious. Desperation in every line. Homage to Calvino. Honor to translators, to editors. That the author translates Lispector hardly surprises.
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Idra Novey is the author of the novel Those Who Knew, forthcoming in 2018, and Ways to Disappear, winner of the 2017 Sami Rohr Prize, the 2016 Brooklyn Library Literary Prize, and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction. Her fiction and poetry have been translated into ten languages. She's written for The New York Times, the LA Times, and NPR’s All Things Considered. She’ ...more
More about Idra Novey

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“Desire, Beatriz had written, was what a man will deny himself until he can't.” 3 likes
“To have stayed awake for two nights watching your grown child sleep, a child who you'd forced too early to be an adult and who'd grown thick from it the way a vine will.” 2 likes
More quotes…