A daring, kaleidoscopic novel about the clash of empires and ideas in the sixteenth century that continue to reverberate throughout modernity—a story unlike anything you’ve ever read before.
Sudden Death begins with a brutal tennis match that could decide the fate of the world. The bawdy Italian painter Caravaggio and the loutish Spanish poet Quevedo battle it out before a crowd that includes Galileo, Mary Magdalene, and a generation of popes who would throw Europe into the flames. In England, Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII behead Anne Boleyn, and her crafty executioner transforms her legendary locks into the most sought-after tennis balls of the time. Across the ocean in Mexico, the last Aztec emperors play their own games, as conquistador Hernán Cortés and his Mayan translator and lover, La Malinche, scheme and conquer, fight and f**k, not knowing that their domestic comedy will change the world. And in a remote Mexican colony a bishop reads Thomas More’s Utopia and thinks that instead of a parody, it’s a manual.
In this mind-bending, prismatic novel, worlds collide, time coils, traditions break down. There are assassinations and executions, hallucinogenic mushrooms, utopias, carnal liaisons and papal dramas, artistic and religious revolutions, love stories and war stories. A dazzlingly original voice and a postmodern visionary, Álvaro Enrigue tells a grand adventure of the dawn of the modern era in this short, powerful punch of a novel. Game, set, match.
Álvaro 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, El País, among others. This novel—his first translated into English—was 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.
Natasha Wimmer’s translations include The Savage Detectives and 2666 by Roberto Bolaño. She lives in New York City.