Jacques is a schoolteacher in a small Chilean village, and a French translator for the local paper. He owes his passion for the French language to his Parisian father, Pierre, who, one year before, abruptly returned to France without a word of explanation. Jacques and his mother’s sense of abandonment is made more acute by their isolation in this small community where few read or think. While Jacques finds distraction in a crush on his student’s older sister, his preoccupation with his father’s disappearance continues to haunt him. But there is often more to a story than the torment it causes. This one is about forgiveness and second chances.
A Distant Father is a short read-just over 100 pages. I don’t want to give everything away so I’ll keep this short!
The writing is fantastic. Really I should say the translation was fantastic, since I have not read this in its original language (Spanish). Any old bilingual person can translate a book, but it takes a great one to be able to turn a bunch of words back into the beautiful prose the author originally wrote.
The writing isn’t overdone and it helped me get into the narrator’s mind more.
Jacques feels isolated since his father left, and when I read this I felt that isolation. He’s trying to do the best he can for his mother and his students. But he is so lonely, and I think that’s something many of us can relate to. I felt a connection to Jacques and enjoyed him as narrator.
I can’t say anymore without giving major parts of the story away so I’m going to stop here! Have you read this or anything else by Skarmeta? I want to read more from him but don’t know where to start.
Title: A Distant Father
Author: Antonio Skarmeta, translated by John Cullen
Date of Publication: 2014
Source: ARC from BEA