LONGLISTED FOR THE 2018 MAN BOOKER INTERNATIONAL PRIZE
The Dinner Guest is Gabriela Ybarra’s prizewinning literary debut: a singular autobiographical novel piecing together the kidnap and murder of her grandfather by terrorists, reflecting on the personal impact of private pain and public tragedy.
The story goes that in my family there’s an extra dinner guest at every meal. He’s invisible, but always there. He has a plate, glass, knife and fork. Every so often he appears, casts his shadow over the table, and erases one of those present.
The first to vanish was my grandfather.
In 1977, three terrorists broke into Gabriela Ybarra’s grandfather’s home, and pointed a gun at him in the shower.
This was the last time his family saw him alive, and his kidnapping played out in the press, culminating in his murder.
Ybarra first heard the story when she was eight, but it was only after her mother’s death, years later, that she felt the need to go deeper and discover more about her family’s past.
The Dinner Guest is a novel, with the feel of documentary non-fiction. It connects two life-changing events – the very public death of Ybarra’s grandfather, and the more private pain as her mother dies from cancer and Gabriela cares for her. Devastating yet luminous, the book is an investigation, marking the arrival of a talented new voice in international fiction.
Inventive...Ybarra brings us through the process with the objectivity and forensic eye of a true crime writer, allowing glimpses of poignancy... the mother's grace and courage in the face of death is captured by her daughter... The writing sparkles throughout... Ybarra has done herself and her family proud in a story that is full of light and shade.
[A] lucid dissection of political violence and open secrets.
Intriguing and sharp.
This autobiographical novel is one of the most fascinating debuts of this year.