The Fallen

Carlos Manuel Álvarez

Translated by Frank Wynne

French paperback with flaps, 136 pages | Paperback, 136 pages
Published 4 September 2019 (UK) | Published by Graywolf Press in North America in Spring 2020

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A powerful, unsettling portrait of ordinary family life in Cuba, Carlos Manuel Álvarez’s debut novel The Fallen is a masterful portrayal of a society in free fall. Diego, the son, is disillusioned and bitter about the limited freedoms his country offers him. Mariana, the mother, is unwell and forced to relinquish her control over the home to her daughter, Maria, who has left school and is working as a chambermaid in one of the state-owned tourist hotels. The father, Armando, is a committed revolutionary who is sickened by the corruption he perceives all around him. In meticulously charting the disintegration of a family, The Fallen offers a poignant reflection on contemporary Cuba and the clash of the ardent idealism of the old guard with the jaded pragmatism of the young.

Morning Star Books of the Year 2020

‘A beautiful and painful novel that demonstrates the power of fiction to pursue the unutterable.’
— Alejandro Zambra, author of Multiple Choice

‘In a dysfunctional environment, deception invades private family life. The lines between truths and lies are blurred. In a poetic telling, this short novel explores the human capacity to love and to hurt.’
Irish Times

The Fallen is the story of a family; not a romanticized saga, but a tale of unconditional love and friendship. Through careful and subtle prose, the strain and suffering in every voice emerges loud and clear. Carlos Manuel Álvarez has painted a powerful, burning image of illness, isolation and harrowing rancour.’
— Laila Obeidat, the London Magazine

‘Álvarez does a neat job in this very short but nutritious novel of establishing the personalities of his characters firmly enough that it comes as a real shock when he upends our expectations of how they might behave.’
— Jake Kerridge, the Telegraph

‘A war foretold that never takes place. A death foretold that never takes place. And in the middle of this is the inevitable collapse of a family and a country. The Fallen is a subtle, intelligent and profoundly moving novel which sketches, in elegant and thoughtful prose, a rarely seen Cuban landscape.’
— Alia Trabucco Zerán, author of The Remainder

‘In chapters which alternate between the perspectives of the four family members, Álvarez slowly and cleverly builds up a picture of a family unit on the brink of collapse.’
Roger Cox, The Scotsman

‘The best in Latin American literature is here: with the precocious skill of someone who is a paragon of narrative resources and sensitivity, Carlos Manuel Álvarez vividly portrays the only identity that really matters: not national, but human. The Fallen is a museum of solitude and of the cracks separating our inner world from the one we live in and from those with whom we coexist.’
— Emiliano Monge, author of Among the Lost

‘In The Fallen every voice has its own music of sadness, its own rhythms of isolation, its own lexicon of defeat. This novel is a subtle masterpiece.’
— Juan Cárdenas, El PaÍs

‘[A] remarkable novel … The Fallen is not a frontal and explicit critic of the Cuban regime – it is more interested in questioning how the ideology of a big project affects a family’s daily life, how the daily miseries manage to reveal the social “truth” of the regime.’
— Edmundo Paz Soldán, La Tercera

‘His prose is supremely elegant.’
— Leila Guerriero, author of Zona de Obras

‘A compelling narrative of a family falling apart, told with love and compassion.’
The Morning Star

Read an excerpt on Granta

Born in 1989, Carlos Manuel Álvarez is a journalist and author. In 2013 he was awarded the Calendario Prize for his collection of short stories La tarde de los sucesos definitivos and in 2015 he received the Ibero-American Journalism Prize, Nuevas Plumas, from the University of Guadalajara. In 2016 he co-founded the Cuban online magazine El Estornudo. He regularly contributes to the New York Times, Al Jazeera, Internationale, BBC World, El Malpensante and Gatopardo. In December 2016 he was selected among the best twenty Latin American writers born in the 1980s at the Guadalajara Book Fair in Mexico and in May 2017 he was included in the Bogota39 list of the best Latin American writers under 40. In 2021 he was named in Granta’s Best of Young Spanish-Language Novelists list. The Tribe, his first book, appeared in 2017 with Sexto Piso. He is also the author of two novels, The Fallen (Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2019), and Falsa Guerra (forthcoming with Fitzcarraldo Editions). 

Frank Wynne has translated works by authors including Michel Houellebecq, Patrick Modiano, Virginie Despentes, Jean-Baptiste Del Amo, Javier Cercas and Almudena Grandes. His work has earned various awards, including the IMPAC Prize (2002), the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (2005), the Scott Moncrieff Prize (2008, 2016) and the Premio Valle Inclán.