"What do I feel?" asks the narrator, Nora García, as she goes back to a Mexican village she has not visited in years to attend the funeral of her ex-husband, a famous pianist who has died of a massive heart attack. This deeply moving novel is the unspoken answer to Nora's self-questioning. "The heart has reasons that reason knows nothing of," Pascal said, and this aphorism of knowing and not knowing is at the core of the novel. Employing motifs of "the heart," modes of music from the tango to Bach, and allusions to poetry, the text is a rich amalgam that reveals a life lived deep within literary culture.
Like her ex-husband, Nora is a musician, a cellist, and so it is fitting that her novel takes the form of a canon and fugue: phrases circle and repeat, variations are introduced, motifs come and go and intermingle, reflecting a paralysis of the grieving.
The novel moves inexorably toward the burial and the revelation of Nora's complex, emotional reaction to Juan's death. Throughout the novel, Nora is moving in the "wake" of that death, being pulled along by the ceremonies of the funeral, the mass, the burial. A rich, nuanced evocation of states of mind and emotion, The Wake powerfully illuminates Nora's quiet grief and rage.
"An original and highly recommended masterstroke." —Library Journal
"An eloquent, erudite meditation on the link between mortality and the nature of art." —Publishers Weekly
"...the story evokes an eloquent mood of loss as it considers the power of memory as filtered through grief." —Kirkus Reviews