The Lost Steps (Paperback)

The Lost Steps By Alejo Carpentier, Adrian Nathan West (Translated by), Leonardo Padura (Introduction by) Cover Image

The Lost Steps (Paperback)

By Alejo Carpentier, Adrian Nathan West (Translated by), Leonardo Padura (Introduction by)


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“If Carpentier is ever to get a new reading in English, it should be now. . . . West’s translations . . . reintroduce English-language readers to this giant of Latin American fiction.” —Natasha Wimmer, The New York Review of Books

The best-known book by Cuba’s most important twentieth-century novelist, in its first new English translation in more than sixty years and featuring a new introduction by Leonardo Padura

A Penguin Classic

Dissatisfied with his empty, Sisyphus-like existence in New York City, where he has abandoned his creative dreams for a job in corporate advertising, a highly cultured aspiring composer wants nothing more than to tear his life up from the root. He soon finds his escape hatch: a university-sponsored mission to South America to look for indigenous musical instruments in one of the few areas of the world not yet touched by civilization. Retracing the steps of time, he voyages with his lover into a land that feels outside of history, searching not just for music but ultimately for himself, and turning away from modernity toward the very heart of what makes us human.

For more than seventy-five years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 2,000 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Alejo Carpentier (1904–1980) was one of the major Latin American writers of the twentieth century, as well as a classically trained pianist and musicologist. His best-known novels are The Lost Steps, Explosion in a Cathedral, and The Kingdom of This World. Born in Lausanne, Switzerland, and raised in Havana, Cuba, Carpentier lived for many years in France and Venezuela before returning to Cuba after the 1959 revolution. A few years later he returned to France, where he lived until his death.
Adrian Nathan West (translator) has translated more than thirty books from Spanish, Catalan, and German, including Benjamin Labatut’s When We Cease to Understand the World, a finalist for both the National Book Award for Translated Literature and the International Booker Prize. He is the author of The Aesthetics of Degradation and the novel My Father’s Diet, and his essays and literary criticism have appeared in The New York Review of Books, London Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, and The Baffler. He lives in Philadelphia.
Leonardo Padura (introduction) is the most internationally successful contemporary Cuban novelist, as well as a journalist and critic. His novels featuring the detective Mario Conde have been translated into many languages and have won literary prizes around the world. Padura lives in Havana.
Product Details ISBN: 9780143133896
ISBN-10: 0143133896
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Publication Date: September 12th, 2023
Pages: 256
Language: English
“Penguin Classics has recently published sensational new translations of two of Carpentier’s novels, The Lost Steps (1953) and Explosion in a Cathedral (1962). . . . What made them influential, and makes them so dazzlingly readable still, is their style. . . . Needless to say, this marriage of style and subject would be illegible to English-language readers without a first-rate translator, and in Adrian Nathan West, Penguin Classics has found their man.” —The Wall Street Journal

“An erudite yet absorbing adventure story . . . A book full of riches—stylistic, sensory, visual.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Carpentier’s novels are full of luscious descriptions of nature. . . . His descriptions of food and drink are exquisite. . . . The mannered intensity of Carpentier’s language—maintained at fever pitch by West—propels the reader. . . . Every sentence in the novel [is] freighted with learning and a passion for high art. . . . What the reader takes away overall from West’s translation is a freshness and bite and aesthetic ambition that match Carpentier’s.” —Natasha Wimmer, The New York Review of Books

“Extraordinary.” —The New Yorker

“The most remarkable translating feat I encountered in 2023 comes courtesy of Adrian Nathan West, who in The Lost Steps and Explosion in a Cathedral brings the almost orgiastically baroque prose of Alejo Carpentier into glorious English.” —Sam Sacks of The Wall Street Journal, via Twitter

“An absolutely magnificent piece of literature . . . The prose is mesmerizing, and it’s one of those books where I just want to have it tattooed on me in its entirety to keep with me forever.” —BuzzFeed

“The greatest novel to have appeared in Latin America in our time.” —Le Figaro Littéraire

“Beautiful and stirring . . . One of [Carpentier’s] finest works . . . which for many readers is the most alluring of his novels.” ―Leonardo Padura, from the Introduction