"I don't believe in inspiration at all. We live in a world that demands explanation. And fiction has the capability to offer explanations for things."
Álvaro Enrigue writes novels like no one else. His most recent, Sudden Death, was called “spellbinding” by the New York Times, “engrossing” by the New Yorker and “brilliantly original” by Salman Rushdie. Born in Mexico, his fiction has won international acclaim before Sudden Death, translated by Natasha Wimmer, marked his entrance into the English-language literary world upon its publication in 2017. Its fearless experimentation and “anarchic, sometimes boyish sense of fun” (the White Review), are apparent from the opening, set during a tennis match between the painter Caravaggio and the Spanish Poet Francisco de Quevedo.
The novel, a story Enrigue calls “a mystery” follows the era’s journey westward, through England, where the hair of the executed Anne Boelyn is made into tennis balls, to Mexico, where Cortez and his lover alter the course of history and a bishop comically misreads Thomas More’s, Utopia. The effect feels like a monumental oil painting, an unforgettable composition of the individual agendas, desires and misadventures in all of their vivid humanity, that upend history over and over again, in throughways still detectable in the present day.
“[Enrigue] belongs to many literary traditions at once and shows a great mastery of them all. . . . His novel belongs to Max Planck’s quantum universe rather than the relativistic universe of Albert Einstein: a world of coexisting fields in constant interaction and whose particles are created or destroyed in the same act.”
Enrigue was a Cullman Center Fellow and a Fellow at the Princeton University Program in Latin American Studies. He has taught at New York University, Princeton University, the University of Maryland, and Columbia University. His work has appeared in the New York Times, The Believer, The White Review, n+1, London Review of Books, and El País, among others. His fiction has been awarded the prestigious Herralde Prize in Spain, the Elena Poniatowska International Novel Award in Mexico, and the Barcelona Prize for Fiction, and has been translated into many languages. Enrigue was born in Mexico and lives in New York City.