On Heroes and Tombs

Godine first published this towering work of Latin American literature in 1981, and are now reissuing it with a new introduction. Often mentioned in the same breath as Borges, Sabato was praised by Camus and other major writers such as Thomas Mann, Graham Greene, Pablo Neruda, Salman Rushdie and Colm Tóibín. He was an important political figure as well as a novelist, and exposed the state terrorism of Argentina’s “dirtywar”, and wrote about everything from metaphysics to tango. On Heroes and Tombs is his masterpiece. In his obituary in 2011, the New York Times wrote,“In 1972, the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda listed Mr. Sábato among the Latin American writers who displayed ‘greater vitality and imagination than anything since the great Russian novels’ of the 19th century. On Heroes and Tombs, the story of a young man trying to find his way in life in Buenos Aires, is considered his most important work of fiction. But many people also know Mr. Sábato for his work in helping Argentina heal when democracy was restored in 1983 after seven years of military dictatorship.”

On Heroes and Tombs is woven around a violent crime: the scion of a prominent Argentinian family, Alejandra, shoots her father and burns herself alive over his corpse. The story shifts between perspectives to reveal the lives of those closest to her, telling of Martín, her troubled lover; Bruno, a writer who loved her mother; and Fernando, her father—who believes himself hunted by a secret, international organization of the blind. Exploring the tumult of Buenos Aires in the 1950s, Heroes illuminates its characters against burning churches and corporate greed. An examination of Argentinian history and culture, it reveals the country at every level, leading its reader into a world of passion, philosophy, and paranoia.

An ambitious, tapestry-type fiction. —Kirkus

Offers by way of fair exchange a rich motherlode of imagery, language and haunting scenes . . . Sabato’s 13-year gestation produced a frequently brilliant book. —Salman Rushdie

Dr. Sabato took his place among Latin America’s greatest writers, and he followed a singular literary path that distinguished him from the writers of the Latin American “boom” of the 1960s and 1970s. —Washington Post

Ernesto Sabato was born in Buenos Aires in 1911 and died in 2011. He published three novels—The Tunnel, On Heroes and Tombs, and Abaddon el Exterminador, which won the French Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger and the Jerusalem Prize—and many volumes of essays. In 1985 he won the Miguel de Cervantes Prize (equivalent to the Nobel Prize for literature in Hispanic languages) “for four decades of literary endeavor”.