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#FoylesFave: Seeing Red by Lina Meruane

17th May 2016 - Gary Perry

Frequent shoppers at our flagship shop on London's Charing Cross Road will know that I'm a huge fan of the Dallas-based press Deep Vellum. The obsession started with Deep Vellum's maiden title, Texas: The Great Theft by Carmen Boullosa, and has only grown with each subsequent publication.


And so we come to my favourite Deep Vellum title yet - Lina Meruane's Seeing Red. An autobiographical novel unlike any other, it's testament to Megan McDowell's masterly translation that the poetry of Meruane's prose comes through, to astonishing and unforgettable effect. An account of the author-narrator's sudden partial blindness, the sentences surge with incomprehension, terror, humour and a visceral rage. With certain chapters addressed to Lina's partner, it  is also a love story.  Few novels attain this level of immediacy or handle our relationship with the body so forcefully, and with emotion rather than sentiment.


From Knausgaard's My Struggle and Lerner's 10:04 to Do No Harm by Henry Marsh and On Immunity by Eula Biss, literary explorations of the body and of illness are being widely read, helping us to question how we deal with the vulnerability of our bodies and, by extension, our mortality. Meruane's novel is a vital contribution to this debate and I want as many people as possible to read it. It's one to discuss and I'm pretty sure we'll be talking about it for years to come.




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