Short Review #13: Sudden Death by Álvaro Enrigue (2016 English Translation)

Rating: 3 out of 5 ⭐️
Title: Sudden Death: A Novel
Author: Álvaro Enrigue, Translator – Natasha Wimmer
Published: 2016, English (Riverhead Books – orig. 2013 Anagrama)
Pages: 272 (Hardcover)
Genres: Literary Fiction, Latinx, Historical, Postmodern
*Disclaimers: Novel contains sexual content and strong language
Link Here

My borrowed copy of Sudden Death next to succulents

Good evening and maybe good morning to some of you! I have not posted in a while, because I started working again (Yay! I was so not getting stir crazy…). So I have a little less time for reading, blogging and reviewing. But here I am, because I finally got through the crazy, surreal book called Sudden Death by Álvaro Enrigue. This one was a trip to read, indeed.

Maybe all books are written simply because in every game the bad guys have the advantage and that is too much to bear” – Álvaro Enrigue, Sudden Death

I had mixed feelings about this novel. It was difficult for me at first, but once I understood how the author was telling the story, I appreciated it more. The author jumps through different exaggerated and almost truthful moments in 16th century history, while breaking the fourth wall it seems sometimes to this century. He reflects on using history and literature to better understand the world, and dove into some audacious historical figures. I also never understood how complicated the history of tennis was until I read about it in Enrigue’s novel. His writing is emotion-driven, filled with dry humor and bordering the postmodern. I would have loved to read this book in the original Spanish to understand the author’s true meaning, but unfortunately, my Spanish understanding is pretty bad. The author was even hilariously bias of translation in the novel.

The sole duty of a writer is to minister to his readers: to liberate them from inexactitude out of respect for the mysterious and touching pact of loyalty that they make with books” – Álvaro Enrigue, Sudden Death

I would only read this book if you can get past the punching style, and backwards way he tells the story. It is not a traditional beginning-middle-end kind of novel. The story in itself is unique, at least to me. I would have given it a higher rating, but some of the story is rather slow and dense. And it was not even the philosophical elements that made it slow for me. I would say if the synopsis sounds good to you, reader, give this book a chance!

Overall, I give this book a 3 out of 5!


P.S. Here is part of the synopsis from Goodreads anyways:

“Sudden Death begins with a brutal tennis match that could decide the fate of the world. The bawdy Italian painter Caravaggio and the loutish Spanish poet Quevedo battle it out before a crowd that includes Galileo, Mary Magdalene, and a generation of popes who would throw Europe into the flames. In England, Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII behead Anne Boleyn, and her crafty executioner transforms her legendary locks into the most sought-after tennis balls of the time. Across the ocean in Mexico, the last Aztec emperors play their own games, as conquistador Hernán Cortés and his Mayan translator and lover, La Malinche, scheme and conquer, fight and f**k, not knowing that their domestic comedy will change the world. And in a remote Mexican colony a bishop reads Thomas More’s Utopia and thinks that instead of a parody, it’s a manual”

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