Nocilla Lab

Agustín Fernández Mallo

Translated by Thomas Bunstead

Published 16 January 2019 | French paperback with flaps, 192 pages
Winner of the 2022 Europese Literatuurpijs

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A landmark in contemporary Spanish literature, Agustín Fernández Mallo’s Nocilla Trilogy – Nocilla DreamNocilla Experience, and Nocilla Lab – presents multiple narratives of people and places that reflect the world in the digital age. In this third, standalone volume, we find the author bedridden in Thailand after being knocked down by a motorbike, an accident which fortuitously gave him the time and space to begin writing the trilogy. Seven years later, when he travels with his girlfriend to Sardinia, they come across an old penitentiary that has been converted into an agritourism site. In a tour de force reminiscent of Adolfo Bioy Casares’ The Invention of Morel, a story of suspense and exploration unfolds in the uninhabited hotel. From autofiction to horror story to graphic novel, Nocilla Lab is a fitting conclusion to one of the most daring literary experiments of the twenty-first century.

‘With the tools of a scientist and the nose of a poet, Fernández Mallo dissects the materials he finds anywhere and everywhere (libraries and garbage dumps, real cities and virtual realities, audiovisual archives and personal memories) to construct, from these fragments, thoughts, and classifications, collages that could only be the fruit of illogic, dreams, accidents.’
— Jorge Carrión, 4Columns

‘Sometimes puzzling, even inexplicable, but rich. Just the thing for fans of Cortázar – and Borges, too.’
Kirkus Reviews

‘Reading Nocilla Lab is an enjoyable challenge, a mental exercise that moves between formats and genres in the most unpredictable ways.… The different layers Agustín Fernández Mallo puts together make up a literary experience that will no doubt be an unforgettable one for whoever embarks on this journey.’
— Laila Obeidat, The London Magazine

‘Think of [The Nocilla Trilogy] as three novels at the edge of the form, their manifold narratives folded into each other: all highly imaginative, all fairly unhinged, all methodically interrupted by a range of scientific, theoretical and literary quotations.’ 
— Kevin Breathnach, London Review of Books

‘Blending different genres and forms of expression into a captivating multi-layered story, Nocilla Lab is not just an interesting literary experiment but also an exquisite work that stays with the reader for a long time.’
Alice Piotrowska, Pendora

‘Why bother asking whether or not the novel can any longer capture the times we live in? The question itself is outdated. We have in front of us the novel that has captured them.’
— MacKenzie Warren, Splice

 Praise for the Nocilla Trilogy

‘It is in these pages that we see a strange and original sensibility at work – one that combines a deep commitment to the possibilities of art with a gonzo spirit and a complete absence of pretention – and get the chance to spend some intimate time in its company.’
Christopher Beha, Harper’s

‘To call the works that comprise Agustín Fernández Mallo’s Nocilla Trilogy wide-ranging wouldn’t be inaccurate, but it would miss the mark in terms of just how much these books manipulate and revise concepts of language and narrative. They fall somewhere between Ben Marcus’s The Age of Wire and String and Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights in their unpredictability, their sense of risk, and the utter joys that can arise from reading them.’
Tobias Carroll, Lit Hub

‘An encyclopedia, a survey, a deranged anthropology. Nocilla Dream is just the cold-hearted poetics that might see America for what it really is. There is something deeply strange and finally unknowable to this book, in the very best way – a testament to the brilliance of Agustín Fernández Mallo.’
— Ben Marcus, author of The Flame Alphabet

‘The most original and powerful author of his generation in Spain.’
— Mathias Enard, author of Compass

‘By juxtaposing fiction with non-fiction … the author has created a hybrid genre that mirrors our networked lives, allowing us to inhabit its interstitial spaces. A physician as well as an artist, Fernández Mallo can spot a mermaid’s tail in a neutron monitor; estrange theorems into pure poetry.’
— Andrew Gallix, Independent

‘Nocilla Experience is the best novel I read in 2016. Thrillingly, incandescently brilliant.’
— Stuart Evers, author of If This is Home

‘Like having multiple browser windows open, and compulsively tabbing between them.’
— Chris Power, Guardian

‘A wonderful work of avant-gardist fiction – in the line of David Markson, Ben Marcus.’
— Germán Sierra, Asymptote

Agustín Fernández Mallo was born in La Coruña in 1967, and is a qualified physicist. In 2000 he formulated a self-termed theory of ‘post-poetry’ which explores connections between art and science. His Nocilla Trilogy, published between 2006 and 2009, brought about an important shift in contemporary Spanish writing and paved the way for the birth of a new generation of authors, known as the ‘Nocilla Generation’. His essay Postpoesía: hacia un nuevo paradigma was shortlisted for the Anagrama Essay Prize in 2009. In 2018 his long essay Teoría general de la basura (cultura, apropiación, complejidad) was published by Galaxia Gutenberg, and in the same year his latest novel, The Things We’ve Seen, won the Biblioteca Breve Prize. In 2022, he was awarded the prestigious Eugenio Trías Essay Prize for La forma de la multitud. The Book of All Loves is his fifth book with Fitzcarraldo Editions.

Thomas Bunstead is a writer and translator based in East Sussex. He has translated some of the leading Spanish-language writers working today, including Yuri Herrera, Enrique Vila-Matas, and Juan Villoro, and his own writing has appeared in The White Review and the Times Literary Supplement. He is an editor at the translation journal In Other Words.