Shiki Nagaoka: A Nose for Fiction
by Mario Bellatin
translated from the Spanish by David Shook
Mexican novelist Mario Bellatin introduces the revolutionary work of a mysterious Japanese writer whose very existence has been all but erased from world literature. A writer who inspired Juan Rulfo and José María Arguedas, Shiki Nagaoka's work has never been available in English, and his most famous novel, which still hasn't been entirely deciphered, is written in an untranslatable language. Bellatin refuses to allow his portrait of the writer to end with the deformedly large nose that determined his life path, by offering a thorough analysis of the writer's innovative use of photography and translation as integral processes in the production of his texts.
“…one of the leading voices in experimental Spanish-language fiction.” —New York Times
“Mario Bellatin has indisputably become one of the literary stars of the Latin American scene.” —Radar Libros (Argentina)
“One of the most original figures of recent Latin American fiction.” —ABC (Spain)
“Bellatin’s unusual narrative world doesn’t need to exceed the conventional limits of the short novel in order to take possession of mind of the reader, who’s left seduced by the turbid and convulsive beauty of his stories.” —El País (Spain)
"... what we have here is a biography based on a fiction and supported by documentary evidence known to have been falsified but which is, nonetheless, the central character’s last defense against being remembered as an invention. This elaborate play is all the more effective for its presentation in Bellatin’s understated prose. Shook does an excellent job of preserving his crisp, deadpan delivery while still allowing the reader to sense the occasional smile twitch at the corners of his mouth." -Heather Cleary
Mario Bellatin has published dozens of novellas on major and minor publishing houses in Latin America, Europe, and the United States. His English-language translations include Beauty Salon (City Lights, 2010) and Chinese Checkers: Three Fictions (Ravenna Press, 2009). His current projects include Los Cien Mil Libros de Bellatin, his own imprint dedicated to publishing 1,000 copies each of 100 of his books.
David Shook is a poet and writer in Los Angeles, where he edits Molossus and Phoneme Media. His debut collection Our Obsidian Tongues is available from Eyewear Publishing.