26 February 2020
Simon Thorogood, Editorial Director at Canongate, has acquired World rights excluding English in the US and Canada to Jay Parini’s Borges and Me from Peggy Boulos Smith at Writers House.
Fifty years ago, Jay Parini fled the United States for Scotland. He was in flight from the Vietnam War and desperately in search of his adult life. There, through unexpected circumstance, he met Jorge Luis Borges.
Borges was blind, in his seventies and frail. Parini was asked to look after him while his translator was unexpectedly called away to a family emergency. When Borges heard that Parini owned a 1957 Morris Minor, he declared a long-held wish to see the Scottish Highlands and this unlikely couple soon set out. As they travelled among historic landmarks, the brilliantly chatty Borges took Parini on a grand tour of western literature and ideas while promising to teach him about love and poetry. Their escapades took a surreal turn on several occasions as Borges’s world of labyrinths, mirrors and doubles shimmered into being.
Borges and Me is a classic road story, but also a magical tour of an era that mirrors our own, when uncertainties abound, and when – as ever – it’s the young and the old who hear voices and dream dreams.
The book has already been hailed by Ian McEwan as ‘A jewel of a book. Very funny, clever, moving, luminous with love of literature and landscape’.
Jay Parini is Axinn Professor of English at Middlebury College, Vermont. His eight novels include The Last Station and The Apprentice Lover. His six volumes of poetry include New and Collected Poems: 1975-2015. In addition to biographies of John Steinbeck, Robert Frost and William Faulkner, he has written a volume of essays on literature and politics, as well as The Art of Teaching. He edited The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature and writes regularly for the Guardian and other publications.