Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

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From the author of Death and the Maiden and other works that explore relations of power in the postcolonial world, comes the story of a man whose distant past comes to haunt him, leading him to uncover his ancestors' involvement in the sordid story behind 19th century human zoos in Europe.

On Fitzroy Foster's fourteenth birthday on September 11th, 1981, he receives an unexpected and unwelcome gift: as his father snaps his picture with a Polaroid, another person's image appears in the photo. Fitzroy, together with his feisty childhood sweetheart, sets out on a voyage to discover this stranger's identity, in a journey that will take him into the darkest past of his own family history and on an epic sea adventure. In order to recover his own identity, he must unearth the forgotten stories of indigenous men, women, and children who were stolen from their homes and paraded around 19th century Europe like circus monkeys. Seamlessly weaving fact and fiction, Darwin's Ghosts is a poignant, mournful cry for those whose travails have been long forgotten, and a lesson in the power of empathy and memory, and the value of forgiveness.

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“It is no surprise that a writer with Dorfman’s skill and brilliance would use an act of imagination as a means of inquiry into the very soul of Euro-American culture . . . Darwin’s Ghosts is dizzying in the best ways. It is a presence. Open the book and the ghosts manifest. . . . A marvel of a novel.”

“Dorfman’s work is not just about violence, it’s about compassion and redemption, too”

“[Darwin's Ghosts] is much more than a Kafkaesque meditation. It’s a thriller, mystery, ghost story and sea adventure ... Like early Hemingway, Dorfman’s language is absolutely clear and restrained; like Kafka and Auster, the images are potent yet eerily disembodied.”

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Ariel Dorfman is considered to be one of “the greatest Latin American novelists” (Newsweek) and one of the United States’ most important cultural and political voices. A Chilean-American author born in Argentina, his numerous award-winning works of fiction, nonfiction and poetry have been published in more than fifty  languages. His play, Death and the Maiden, which has been performed in over one hundred countries, was made into a film by Roman Polanski. Among his works are the novels WidowsThe Nanny and the Iceberg, Mascara and Konfidenz, and the memoirs Heading South, Looking Northand Feeding on Dreams. He recently published a collection of essays, Homeland Security Ate My Speech: Messages from the End of the World. He contributes to major papers worldwide, including frequent comments in The New York TimesThe Nation and the New York Review of Books. His stories have appeared in The New Yorker, the AtlanticHarper’sPlayboyIndex on Censorship and many other magazines and journals. A prominent human rights activist, he lives with his wife Angélica in Chile and Durham, North Carolina, where he is the Walter Hines Page Emeritus Professor of Literature at Duke University.

Other books by Ariel Dorfman