Seeing Red


A visceral, moving, haunting English-language debut examines illness, the body, and human relationships by one of Chile’s brightest young authors.

“Lina Meruane’s prose has great literary force: it emerges from the hammer blows of conscience, but also from the ungraspable and from pain.”- Roberto Bolaño

Paperback ISBN: 9781941920244
Ebook ISBN: 9781941920251

Publication Date: February 23, 2016

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Product Description

Seeing Red describes a young Chilean writer recently relocated to New York for doctoral work who suffers a stroke which leaves her blind. It charts her journey through hospitals and an increased dependency on those closest to her to cope. Fiction and autobiography intertwine in an intense, visceral, and caustic novel about the relation between the body, science, and human relationships.

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Paperback, eBook


It was happening. Right then, happening. They’d been warning me about it for a long time, and yet. I was paralyzed, my sweaty hands clutching at the air while the people in the living room went on talking, roaring with laughter—even their whispers were exaggerated, while I. And someone shouted louder than the rest, turn the music down, don’t make so much noise, or the neighbors’ll call the cops at twelve o’clock. I focused on that thundering voice, which never seemed to tire of repeating that the neighbors went to bed early even on Saturdays. Those gringos weren’t night owls like us, party people to the core. Good protestant folks, they would protest if we didn’t let them get to sleep. On the other side of the walls, above our bodies and under our feet, too, those gringos—so used to greeting dawn with their socks on and shoes already tied—were restless. Gringos who sit down in their impeccable underwear and ironed faces to eat their breakfasts of cereal with cold milk. But none of us worried about those sleepless people, their heads buried under pillows, their throats stuffed with pills that would bring no relief if we went on trampling their rest. If those in the living room went on trampling, not me. I was still in the bedroom, kneeling, my arm outstretched toward the floor. And in that instant, in that half-light, in that commotion, I found myself thinking of the neighbors’ unbearable vigil, imagining them turning out the lights after stuffing earplugs in their ears, pushing them in so firmly the silicone broke. I thought I would much rather have been the one with shattered earplugs sticking into my eardrums. I would have rather been the old woman who resolutely places the mask over her eyelids, only to yank it off again and switch on the light. I wanted that while my still-suspended hand encountered nothing. There was only the alcoholic laughter coming through the walls and spattering me with saliva. Only Manuela’s strident voice reprimanding the uproar for the umpteenth time, “Come on, guys, keep it down a little.” No, please don’t, I said to myself, keep talking, keep shouting, howl, growl if you must. Die laughing. That’s what I said to myself, my body seized up, though only a few seconds had passed. I had just come into the master bedroom, just leaned over to search for my purse and the syringe. I had to give myself an injection at twelve o’clock sharp, but this time I wouldn’t make it because the precariously balanced coats dropped my purse to the floor, because instead of stooping conscientiously, as I should have, I bent down and reached out to pick it up. And it was then that a firecracker went off in my head. But it wasn’t fire I was seeing, it was blood spilling out inside my eye. The most shockingly beautiful blood I have ever seen. The most outrageous. The most terrifying. The blood was gushing, but only I could see it. With absolute clarity I saw how it thickened, I saw the pressure rise, I watched as I got dizzy, I saw my stomach turn, saw that I was starting to retch, and, even so. I didn’t straighten up or move even a millimeter, didn’t even try to breathe while I watched the show. Because that was the last thing I would see, that night, through that eye: an intensely black blood.


“Meruane is one of the one or two greats in the new generation of Chilean writers who promise to have it all.” – Roberto Bolaño

“Meruane’s writing is acid, so corrosive that sometimes sentences dissolve before meeting the end that they deserved.” – Álvaro Enrigue

“An overwhelming novel, formally brave (…) that balances with great talent the search of a personal language with narrative seduction” – Sor Juana Award jury

“A novel where not only the blood pouring from the eyes is palpitating; so is the quality of the literature.” – El País

“A merciless book.” – Sylvia Molloy

“A powerful novel.“ – Federico Falcó

“An authentic novel written not from the edges, but from inside the sick body, with a powerful, intense narrator.” Gustavo Pablos, Diario La Voz

“[Seeing Red] describes, through sight as metaphor, a world of uncertain horizons opposed to each other…Rather than as a victim, she portrays her narrator with a final effect that reminds the reader of the black humour literature of the last century.” – Stefano Gallerani, Italy