Ways of Going Home

Alejandro Zambra

Published: 3 January 2013
Hardback, B Format
129x198mm, 160 pages
ISBN: 9781847086266

Other Editions


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Published: 3 October 2013
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 160 pages
ISBN: 9781847086273

Ebook Available

Translated by Megan McDowell


Growing up in 1980s Chile, a young boy plays hide and seek in the suburbs of Santiago with his friends while the adults become slowly entangled in the violence of Pinochet's regime - accomplices and victims of the brutal dictatorship. As the country shudders under authoritarian rule, the boy creates stories of his own to explain the sporadic scenes of violence, the disappearances, and the deafening silence of his mother and father. Until, on the night of the Santiago earthquake, a mysterious girl named Claudia appears among the children and the boy's world is changed forever.

Now, as a young man reflecting on the tragedies of his childhood, he must find the courage to confront as an adult what he could not have known as a child, and to untangle Chile's troubled past. As he struggles to begin a novel which will encompass the clash between innocence and complicity, the boundaries between fiction and reality blur, and the beautiful Claudia comes back into his life.

About the author

Image of Alejandro Zambra

Alejandro Zambra was born in Santiago, Chile in 1975. He is the author of two books of poems, Bahía Inútil and Mudanza; a collection of essays, No leer; and three novels, Bonsái, which was awarded a Chilean Critics Award for best novel, The Private Lives of Trees, and Ways of Going Home, which was awarded the Altazor Prize, selected by The National Book Council as the best Chilean novel published during 2012, and won an English Pen Award. He was selected as one of Granta's Best of Young Spanish-Language Novelists and was elected to the Bogotá39 list. More about the author


‘A fascinating reflection on historical complicity, translated with restrained elegance by Megan McDowell’ David Evans



‘Zambra belongs to that rare species of writers that bring language back to life. The strength of this novel, its potency, is in the way it unfolds language in order to place its readers at that almost ungraspable intersection between individual and collective history.’ Valeria Luiselli

‘A work which is filled with the heartfelt vulnerability of testimony. I loved it and I read it with the great joy of anticipation that one has reading a writer one hopes to read more and more of in the future’ Edwidge Danticat

‘Zambra is one of the writers of my generation that I most admire. Never a wasted word. Never a false note. His is an utterly unique voice, one I go back to again and again’ Daniel Alarcón, author

‘Thought-provoking and inspiring... a captivating book’ Abi Jackson

‘I've found myself rereading, trying to work out this short novel's intricate structure of gaps and holes’ Adam Thirlwell, Books of the Year

‘Manages, in its sparse, moving, constantly smoking cool-eyed Chilean way, to add up to a stark and timely study of fiction, truth, memory, secrets, sex, Pinochet and death... Wonderful’ Stuart Hammond

‘Deceptively slight and finely wrought: both a wistful look at Chile's recent political history and a metafictional reflection on the nature of writing... Zambra is one of Chile's finest writers’ Matt Lewis

‘Complex yet sophisticated, the novel places Zambra at the spearhead of a new Chilean fiction. [He] weaves some of the continent's most difficult historical themes into an exciting modern art form’ Mina Holland

‘A brief, elegant novel of life and writing after Pinochet... Zambra cannot simply be pigeonholed as a "Spanish-Language" writer. His concerns and influences are broader, and [his writing] has a meditative, discursive timbre... Notable’ Adam O’Riordan

‘Thought-provoking and inspiring, the book also echoes some of the author's own nostalgia of growing up during that turbulent time... Captivating’

‘Zambra mixes fiction with reality... a brief but brilliant coming of age novel’ Thomas Quinn

‘Zambra at his best offers an intimate recognition of his central characters, and he can evoke a setting succinctly’ Richard Gwyn

‘A thrilling novel from one of Chile's outstanding young writers... Zambra's tightly crafted work explores the themes of childhood, disappointment, and the impossibility of ever returning home’ Angel Gurria-Quintana

‘Brilliant’ Adam Thirlwell, Books of the Year

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