One of the world’s foremost spots for astronomical observation, the Atacama Desert in Chile is also where, in October 1973, twenty-six people were executed by Pinochet’s Caravan of Death. Decades on, a petition gathers for a constellation’s stars to be dedicated to them. Nona Fernández is made a godmother to Mario Argüelles Toro, star HD89353, and asked to write a message to his family.
When her own mother begins to suffer from fainting spells, Fernández accompanies her to neurological examinations. There, the mapping of her mother’s brain activity – groups of neurons glowing and sparking on screen – calls to mind the night sky, as memories light up into a complex stellar tapestry.
Weaving together the narrative of her mother’s illness with stories of the cosmos and of her country, Fernández braids astronomy and astrology, neuroscience and memory, family history and national history into an intensely imagined autobiographical work.
A profound reckoning with the past, Voyager is a refusal to allow lives to be forgotten and truths inconvenient to those in power erased. It confirms Nona Fernández as one of the great chroniclers of our time.
‘Extraordinary . . . ambitious, often dazzling.’ Financial Times
‘A captivating memoir that not only offers a deeper understanding of one of Chile’s most acclaimed writers, but also a new insight into the history and resilience of the Chilean people.’ New Statesman
‘A powerful and necessary book by one of Chile’s most impressive writers.’ Morning Star
‘A scintillating autobiographical essay.’ The Bookseller, Editor’s Choice
‘Perhaps the hippest Chilean writer since Roberto Bolaño (with whom she shares a translator) . . . Short, stylish, and engrossing, this is a stellar book from a writer who should be on your radar.’ GQ
‘Nona Fernández has developed a reputation for composing unsettling portraits of life during Chile’s brutal military dictatorship, with stories that venture beyond the stiff and incomplete histories recorded by truth and reconciliation commissions.’ New York Magazine
‘Nona demonstrates that the past – personal and political – needs a telescope as much as a microscope, to make out the disappearing ghosts of lost memories and people and ideals. Information from Chile’s recent history, as with the events of each individual life, can merge into the blackness between stars. Nona Fernández has the courage to go looking – the past isn’t always immediately visible, which doesn’t mean it isn’t there.’ Richard Beard, author of The Day That Went Missing