Disclosure: I received a copy of Octavio’s Journey for review. The opinions below are my own and unbiased.
I love really rich, decadent chocolate cake. The kind that you can only eat one thin slice at a time, taking your time over each delicious morsel.
It’s the same with books. True, I love breezing through a rom-com as much as the next person. But it’s also nice to find a book that you need to take your time over. And Octavio’s Journey is certainly the kind of book that you will want to savour, not rush your way through. It’s only just over 100 pages long, so when this colourful little book turned up on my doorstep, I thought that it would be a quick read.
Instead I found that it was a fable that I needed to take my time over. Miguel Bonnefoy’s debut novel is a grown-up fairytale about Octavio, a giant of a man who lives a lonely, illiterate life. A chance meeting with a kind woman changes his life and he embarks on a pathway that he never envisaged.
Now, because this is such a short book, I can’t really tell you too much without giving away the bulk of the story. But what I can tell you is that Miguel Bonnefoy’s writing really reminded me of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Octavio’s Journey has the same magical quality as Garcia Marquez’s novels, conjuring up rich imagery and intricate characters. I found myself reading and re-reading passages, savouring the words like you savour the rich flavour of a piece of fine chocolate.
And we also must not forget the other star of this novel: its translator, Emily Boyce. Translating a novel like this without losing the magic of the story can not be an easy task, and she has done an excellent job.
If you are looking for a novel to transport you to another world, then Octavio’s Journey is definitely one to try. But don’t expect to race through this in a couple of hours. Take your time to enjoy the journey!
A compact but kaleidoscopic fable of Venezuela from a stunning new voice in the magical realism tradition.
His body might have been hewn from a tree trunk; his heart would last for a hundred years. And, like a tree, he was one of those men who die standing up.
A chance meeting in the local pharmacy transforms the life of lonely, illiterate Octavio. He begins reading lessons and finds love and happiness for the very first time. But Octavio’s destiny lies elsewhere, as he will discover on a journey into the Venezuelan rainforest.
Shortlisted for the Goncourt first novel award, this short but epic fable is both a hymn to Venezuela and the magical story of an extraordinary hero.
A magical debut novel that is definitely one to savour: 8/10