https3a2f2fdev.lareviewofbooks.org2fwp content2fuploads2f20232f032fvoyager constellations of memory

In a Life I Never Had I Was a Brave Cosmonaut: On Nona Fernández’s “Voyager”

From the opening pages of her 2019 memoir Voyager: Constellations of Memory, Nona Fernández spurns the conventions of the form, opting instead for a wider, more visionary lens. As Fernández accompanies her mother to the doctor after a string of mysterious fainting spells, the scan of her mother’s brain illuminated on the hospital monitor prompts a starscape to spring to life in Fernández’s mind, initiating the book’s voyage through space, memory, and imagination.

“IN A LIFE I never had I was a brave cosmonaut and I navigated the stars I’d always watched curiously.”

–Nona Fernández

Voyager (released in English this year) is the third of Fernández’s books to be translated from Spanish by Natasha Wimmer and published by Graywolf Press. The memoir takes its name from the two exploratory robotic probes launched by NASA in 1977 to observe and record the outer planets of the solar system. True to its title, this book-length autobiographical essay reads like a literary time capsule, in which Fernández herself, reckoning with her aging mother’s illness, embarks on a mission to capture essential memories before their inevitable disappearance. “Life is ephemeral, but our records remain,” she told me in an interview last month. “Just as stars are born from the material of other dead stars, humanity has been building on the archives that each generation has left behind.” The archivist sensibilities of the Chilean actress, playwright, and novelist are nothing new. They were central to her 2016 novel The Twilight Zone, which won her […]

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