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“Blood is a terrible gossip, it tells everything.”Dr. Miranda is faced with a tragedy: his father has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and has only a few weeks to live. He is also faced with a dilemma: How does one tell his father he is dying? Ernesto Duran, a patient of Dr. Miranda’s, is convinced he is sick. Ever since he separated from his wife he has been presenting symptoms of an illness he believes is killing him. It becomes an obsession far exceeding hypochondria. The fixation, in turn, has its own creeping effect on Miranda’s secretary, who cannot, despite her best intentions, resist compassion for the man.A profound and philosophical exploration of the nature and meaning of illness, Alberto Barrera Tyszka’s tender, refined novel interweaves the stories of four individuals as they try, in their own way, to come to terms with sickness in all its ubiquity.
Alberto Barrera Tyszka, poet and novelist, is well known in Venezuela for his Sunday column in the newspaper El Nacional. He cowrote the internationally best-selling and critically acclaimed Hugo Chávez (2007), the first biography of the Venezuelan president. The Sickness won the prestigious Premio Herralde—an honor previously bestowed on Roberto Bolaño and Javier Marias, among others—and was shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2011. Margaret Jull Costa is the translator of many Portuguese, Spanish, and Latin American writers, among them Javier Marías, Bernardo Atxaga, Fernando Pessoa, and Eça de Queiroz. She has won many awards, most recently, the 2011 Oxford Weidenfeld Translation Prize for José Saramago's The Elephant's Journey.