A startling book-length essay, at once grand and intimate, from National Book Award finalist Nona Fernández.
Voyager begins with Nona Fernández accompanying her elderly mother to the doctor to seek an explanation for her frequent falls and inability to remember what preceded them. As the author stares at the image of her mother’s brain scan, it occurs to her that the electrical signals shown on the screen resemble the night sky.
Inspired by the mission of the Voyager spacecrafts, Fernández begins a process of observation and documentation. She describes a recent trip to the remote Atacama desert—one of the world’s best spots for astronomical observation—to join people who, like her, hope to dispel the mythologized history of Chile’s new democracy. Weaving together the story of her mother’s illness with story of her country and of the cosmos itself, Fernández braids astronomy and astrology, neuroscience and memory, family history and national history into this brief but intensely imagined autobiographical essay. Scrutinizing the mechanisms of personal, civic, and stellar memory, she insists on preserving the truth of what we’ve seen and experienced, and finding ways to recover what people and countries often prefer to forget.
In Voyager, Fernández finds a new container for her profound and surreal reckonings with the past. One of the great chroniclers of our day, she has written a rich and resonant book.
“’Who are we? Where are we going? Where do we come from?’ In finding poetic answers to those queries, Fernández documents the history of her homeland and aids her ailing mother (whose epilepsy diagnosis brought additional complications), all while musing on the intricacies of the universe. The result is a moving reflection that’s scientific, cerebral, and spiritual.”—Publishers Weekly
“[Fernández] is an expert at weaving seemingly disparate topics together, at finding their common threads. . . . Wherever this great writer (and translator!) wants to take us, I’m there.”—Katie Yee, Literary Hub