Composed of photographs and childhood drawings, crowdsourced obsessive circular lists of first loves, class rosters, dialogue recorded as brief screenplays, all crammed into the claustrophobic narration of Camilo: in his 50s, alone, torn apart by the murder of Cosme, his own first love. His obsession with preserving the fleeting memories of the relationship between his pubescent self and his teenage love plays out concurrently with his abduction/adoption of a boy, Renato: brown like Cosme, unprotected like Cosme. His tenses reel as he flashes back to their brief relationship or forward into fantasy while his next door neighbor replays the same record over and over and Renato preempts lines from TV programs he’s already seen. Like Lolita, Renato becomes a symbol of Camilo’s interrupted love and a vessel for his grief, but unlike Humbert, Camilo isn’t confessing. He's vindictive, avenging Cosme’s murder perpetually, and forever unsure of who to blame. — From Frank's picks
The gripping English debut of the famous and hugely talented Brazilian writer Victor Heringer, who died tragically young.
In the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro, one summer in the 1970s, a family—a husband and wife, their daughter, and their crippled teenage son Camilo—take in an orphan named Cosme. The boys unexpectedly fall in love, but an act of violence shatters their intimate world and changes their lives forever. Decades later, when Camilo returns to his hometown, he is haunted by his first love and the long shadow of Brazil’s military dictatorship. At once an incisive and unforgiving study of Brazilian society and a fluid, queer coming-of-age story, Victor Heringer’s exhilarating and moving novel is worthy of Machado de Assis.
About the Author
The writer and multimedia artist Victor Heringer was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1988. His debut novel Glória was awarded the 2013 Premio Jabuti. The Love of Singular Men was published by Companhia das Letras in 2016, and was shortlisted for the Sao Paulo Prize for Literature, the Rio Prize for Literature, and the Oceanos Prize. Tragically, Heringer took his own life in 2018.
James Young is a writer, translator, and editor from Belfast, Ireland.
When you read something genuinely new it's hard to describe it - you end up settling for comparisons - and The Love of Singular Men is truly a singular novel. It's ingenious like Cortazar or Nabokov, elliptical like Grace Paley, funny like Donald Barthelme. Upon finishing it you want to immediately meet the young man who wrote it, shake him vigorously by the hand and congratulate him on the beginning of a brilliant career. But Victor Heringer is gone. He left this beautiful book behind.
— Zadie Smith
One of the best novels in recent years.
Heringer had little time to live, but he marked an entire generation of writers
— O Globo
The brief, precise scenes – incorporating photos, lists and handwritten passages – enable Heringer to cover a great deal in a short space and make a potentially gloomy story into a multilayered celebration of life. That the author died in 2018, aged 29, is a loss to international literature.
— John Self - The Guardian
Heringer once said that he loved the serendipity of creation, like exploring a mountain and discovering new places to twist your ankle. His commitment to heterodoxy, singularity and incongruity made him an artist of the loose end. He killed himself aged twenty nine, when he was beginning to make his name. Perhaps the ‘who knows why’ that whispers through all his work applies also to this.
— Lorna Scott Fox - New Left Review
The novel’s genius emerges from this condition of abject solitude: attempting to write his way out of a world in “perpetual moral hangover,” Heringer finds beauty and humor even in tragedy.
— Adam Morris - The Baffler
Grand and strangely devastating.
— Charlie Lee - The New York Review of Books
It’s the first book in a long time I’ve wanted to read again the moment I finished it. … The book’s texture is marvelously diffuse and porous, allowing wild movements through (and juxtapositions of) time…I can’t think of many pages in books I’ve read in recent years that are such pure demonstrations of virtuosity.
— Garth Greenwell
Heringer's writing is a braid of the tirelessly hilarious and the deadly serious.
— Tim Pfaff - The Bay Area Reporter