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Portrait of an Unknown Lady by Maria Gainza
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Portrait of an Unknown Lady

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Portrait of an Unknown Lady by Maria Gainza
Paperback $15.95
Mar 21, 2023 | ISBN 9781646221752

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    Mar 21, 2023 | ISBN 9781646221752

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    Mar 22, 2022 | ISBN 9781646220328

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Product Details


A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice
A New Yorker Best Book of the Year
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of The Year
A Town and Country Must-Read Book of Spring

A CrimeReads Best International Crime Book of the Month

“Gainza has much to say about the creative life, about art and ways of seeing, about perception and reality, authenticity and simulation, fidelity and betrayal. These are matters she takes seriously and about which she writes with exceptional acuity and precision. But the dominant spirit . . . is one of playfulness and humor.” —Sigrid Nunez, The New York Review of Books

“Argentine art critic and novelist María Gainza’s Portrait of an Unknown Lady takes an unorthodox perspective on the modern-art market, offering a kind of homage to the underworld of forgery . . . Ms. Gainza proves herself a dab hand at concisely digesting artists’ lives, finding delight in idiosyncrasy and social rebellion.” —Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal

“María Gainza’s Portrait of an Unknown Lady, translated from Spanish by Thomas Bunstead, takes a more philosophical look at the art world by questioning what constitutes an artist. The titular portrait is figurative; our narrator, a disillusioned art critic in Buenos Aires using the nom de plume María Lydis, is investigating a mysterious figure . . . Bunstead’s colorful translation reads at times as an adventure serial, at times as a hard-boiled noir, and throughout it all, María uses her wit, erudition and sass to suss out the true meaning of art.” —Cory Oldweiler, The Washington Post

“Gainza weaves a fascinating, often confounding story about beauty, obsession and authenticity . . . Like Bolaño, she writes stories within stories, each with its own melancholy mood and unsolvable mystery . . . A novel with many beautiful, confounding moments. Maria Gainza is sharp, modern and playful, a writer who multiplies the possibilities for fiction.” —Johanna Thomas-Corr, The Guardian

“Exploring issues of authenticity and originality, Argentine novelist and art critic Gainza offers up an impressionistic, unconventional, and highly rewarding novel about a group of art forgers in Buenos Aires in the 1960s.” —David Conrads, The Christian Science Monitor

“A truly exquisite novel . . . moving, clever and written with a wry precision.” —Stuart Kelly, The Scotsman

“There’s a lot to like in Portrait of an Unknown Lady, from the slick Argentinian high-society setting, to the lovely writing and laudable translation from Bunstead.” —Ian J. Battaglia, Chicago Review of Books

“The value of truth, reality, and authenticity are all interrogated in this stunningly slippery novel, as Gainza eloquently probes the difference between art and artifice . . . Portrait of an Unknown Lady is wholly original, a quality which things both real and replicated can possess, so long as the creator knows what they are doing. And, with Gainza, readers are in the hands of a master.” —Kristin Iversen, Just Circling Back

“Intelligent and tensile . . . A loose investigation into the nature of art and of memory, scattered with gems of intrigue and insight.” —Emily Temple, Lit Hub, One of the Most Anticipated Books of the Year

“A mesmerizing deep dive into the art world through a neo-noir female detective’s quest to find a forger in Buenos Aires . . . Dreamy and atmospheric . . . Portrait of an Unknown Lady, eschewing structure and neat plot convention for vibrant language and a hypnotic voice, complicates rather than clarifies the stories that are told about enigmatic women.” —Shelf Awareness (starred review)

“This captivating work is one to savor.” —Publishers Weekly (starred and boxed review)

“The work of an author in full command of her talents. The result is an exploration of identity and authenticity that asks what it means to be ‘real,’ as the term is applied either to a work of art or to a life . . . Subtle, incandescent, and luminous—a true master’s work.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“The mutable, esoteric art world is again the setting for award-winning Argentinian Gainza’s latest, deftly translated by British writer-editor Bunstead . . . Shrewd audiences will surely enjoy the engrossing challenge of an unpredictable pursuit.” —Booklist

“There are many pleasures to be had in reading Portrait of an Unknown Lady: its sublime, transcendent sentences, its arch and shadowy figures. Most of all, the zone to which you are transported, which is a Buenos Aires of canvases, trap doors, and dreams.” —Amina Cain, author of Indelicacy

“Vividly detailed and saturated with intricate feeling, Gainza’s novel is an engrossing exploration of authenticity, obsession, and the enveloping allure of art.” —Alexandra Kleeman, author of Something New Under the Sun

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