Author(s): Silvina Ocampo
Silvina Ocampo is undoubtedly one of the twentieth century's great masters of the short story. Italo Calvino once said about her, "I don't know another writer who better captures the magic inside everyday rituals, the forbidden or hidden face that our mirrors don't show us." Thus Were Their Faces collects a wide range of Ocampo's best short fiction and novella-length stories from her whole writing life. Stories about creepy doubles, a marble statue of a winged horse that speaks to a girl, a house of sugar that is the site of an eerie possession, children who lock their perverse mothers in a room and burn it, a lapdog who records the dreams of an old woman. Jorge Luis Borges wrote that the cruelty of Ocampo's stories was the result of her nobility of soul, a judgment as paradoxical as much of her own writing. For her whole life Ocampo avoided the public eye, though since her death in 1993 her reputation has only continued to grow, like a magical forest. Dark, gothic, fantastic, and grotesque, these haunting stories are among the world's finest.
A brand new collection of Silvina Ocampo's wildly surreal stories that affirms the author's position as one of the most important Argentine authors of the 20th century. Admired by Julio Cortazar and Jorge Luis Borges, Ocampo's stories are now available for discovery and rediscovery.
SILVINA OCAMPO (1903-1993) was born to an old and prosperous family in Buenos Aires, the youngest of six sisters. After studying painting with Giorgio de Chirico and Fernand Leger in Paris, she returned to her native city-she would live there for the rest of her life-and devoted herself to writing. Her eldest sister, Victoria, was the founder of the seminal modernist journal and publishing house Sur, which championed the work of Jorge Luis Borges and Adolfo Bioy Casares, and in 1940 Bioy Casares and Silvina Ocampo were married. The first of Ocampo's seven collections of stories, Viaje olvidado (Forgotten Journey), appeared in 1937; the first of her seven volumes of poems, Enumeracion de la patria (Enumeration of My Country) in 1942. She was also a prolific translator -of Dickinson, Poe, Melville, and Swedenborg-and wrote plays and tales for children. The writer and filmmaker Edgardo Cozarinsky once wrote, "For decades, Silvina Ocampo was the best kept secret of Argentine letters." Silvina Ocampo: Selected Poems is published by NYRB/Poets. HELEN OYAYEMI is the author of five novels, including White Is for Witching, which won a 2010 Somerset Maugham Award; Mr. Fox, which won a 2012 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award; and most recently Boy, Snow, Bird. In 2013, she was named one of Granta's Best Young British Novelists. DANIEL BALDERSTON is Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Modern Languages at the University of Pittsburgh, where he chairs the Department of Hispanic Languages and Literatures and directs the Borges Center. He is currently completing his seventh book on Borges, titled How Borges Wrote. He has edited numerous books, including Voice-Overs: Translation and Latin American Literature, and has also translated books by Jose Bianco, Juan Carlos Onetti, Sylvia Molloy, and Ricardo Piglia. JORGE LUIS BORGES (1899-1986), a giant in Latin American letters, wrote numerous books of poetry, fiction, and essays, and was a prodigious translator of authors such as Kipling, Woolf, Faulkner, and Poe. He was a regular contributor to Victoria Ocampo's journal Sur, and a frequent dinner guest of Silvina Ocampo and Bioy Casares. Over one of their legendary conversations, the three friends came upon the idea of editing the Antologia de la Literatura Fantastica, which was published in 1940.