160 pages

Trade Paper

List Price US $17.99
ISBN: 9781954276079


ISBN: 9781954276086

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“[Canción] dissolves every boundary between identity and mask, home and diaspora, past and present. . . . [It is] a short novel that manages the feat of uniting the long and broken lines of history.”

Berman Literature Prize jury citation

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“[Canción] addresses relevant issues in current discussion about Jewish diaspora, migration, and the armed conflict in Guatemala. . . . The writing is captivating, the characters memorable, the historical scenes evocative, and the overall reading experience enoyable.”

Daniel Cosío Villegas Library, Dublin Literary Award Longlist citation

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“There is something Bolañoesque about Halfon’s fictions, the way art and violence conspire to distort mythologies both personal and national. . . . The detective novel rubs elbows with the campus novel; tragedy cuts like acid through farce.”

New York Times Book Review

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“The narrative of Canción unfolds in an elusive middle ground where heritage becomes porous. . . . [Halfon’s] métier is family: the way we are shaped by it and the way we push back on or move beyond it; how it both supports and limits us. . . . We are who we imagine we are, in other words, which is the faith that sits at the heart of family and literature.”

Los Angeles Times

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“Extraordinary. . . . Establish[es] an affinity between fiction and autobiography that unsettles generic divisions.”

World Literature Today

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“Gripping. . . . Lisa Dillman and Daniel Hahn’s translation, completed in consultation with Halfon, gracefully calls attention to Halfon’s insightful depiction of an identity-forming journey.”


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“Doubles down on the possibilities that apprehending history can offer us the opportunity to rebuild our world and our relationships.”


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“At its core, Halfon’s work is elegiac. . . . Canción portrays the surprises the mind gives as gifts to itself when it is free to speculate and uncover the linkages obscured by grief and time itself.”

On the Seawall

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Canción brings us into the violence of 1960s Guatemala, not only through the violence of rebels and the government, but through the eyes of a family entwined in the midst of it all.”

North of Oxford

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“An engrossing story of Jewish diaspora, secrets, and the multigenerational impacts of violence. . . . Dualities of beauty and horror, humor and darkness, and memory and truth all knock against each other to reveal the long-lasting effects of war, loss, and silence.”

Jewish Book Council

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“What will impress readers are the narrator’s descriptions of life in Guatemala. . . . Those able to follow Halfon’s non-linear train of thought will have much to enjoy.”

The Reporter

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“Exquisite. . . . A gorgeously rendered meditation on borderless identity, historical traumas and ongoing repercussions.”

Shelf Awareness (starred review)

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“Another minimasterpiece by a master of the form.”

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

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“A revealing look at war and its effect on families.”

Linda Bond, Auntie’s Bookstore (Spokane, WA)

“What a beautiful writer . . . Canción is another fine addition to Halfon’s search for identity.”

Melanie Fleishman, Center for Fiction Bookstore (Brooklyn, NY)

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“An irresistibly alluring mix of autobiography and fiction. . . . Beyond his gorgeous prose, Halfon’s ongoing exploration of family, history, identity, legacy, and, herein, the reverberations of war and violence across generations, is utterly compelling and deeply evocative.”

Jeremy Garber, Powell’s Books (Portland, OR)

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“Extending a successful run of genealogy-tracing sleuth novels, Eduardo Halfon . . . once again displays a knack for tugging at loose threads in shadowy, complex tapestries.”

Justin Walls,

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In Canción, Eduardo Halfon’s eponymous wanderer is invited to a Lebanese writers’ conference in Japan, where he reflects on his Jewish grandfather’s multifaceted identity. To understand more about the cold, fateful day in January 1967 when his grandfather was abducted by Guatemalan guerillas, Halfon searches his childhood memories. Soon, chance encounters around the world lead to more clues about his grandfather’s captors, including a butcher nicknamed “Canción” (or song). As a brutal and complex history emerges against the backdrop of the Guatemalan Civil War, Halfon finds echoes in the stories of a woman he meets in Japan whose grandfather survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

Through exquisite prose and intricate storytelling, Halfon exposes the atrocities of war and the effect that silence and extreme violence have on family and identity.

In consultation with the author, Canción was translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman and Daniel Hahn, both of whom also contributed to the translations of The Polish Boxer, Monastery, and Mourning.

Berman Literature Prize Winner

Cálamo Extraordinary Prize Winner

Big Other Book Award Finalist

Dublin Literary Award Longlist

Kirkus Reviews “Best Books of the Year” selection

World Literature Today “Notable Translations of the Year” selection Editor’s Pick

Center for Fiction “Bookstore Picks” selection

Book Bungalow “International Literature Book Club” selection

Books & Books “Hispanic Heritage Month Recommended Reading” selection

Powell’s Books “New Literature in Translation” selection

Scribd “Editors’ Top Indie Book Picks” selection

Boston Public Library “National Hispanic Heritage Month” selection


Excerpt from Canción

Eduardo Halfon talks about Canción and how his entire body of work functions as a “novela en marcha—an ongoing novel” at Asymptote.

Watch Eduardo Halfon read from Canción for the Big Other Book Awards, listen to him discuss the book on the Keen On and Beyond the Zero podcasts, and read excerpts in the New York Review of Books, Tablet Magazine, and Evergreen Review.