In The Awaited, 80-year-old Ovlas narrates the story of his life and describes the workings of a mysterious ceremony whose purpose the reader discovers as this reflexive novel advances. Using a first-person narrative style with hints of magic realism, Ovlas recounts his childhood and all the significant aspects of his life.
He discusses the importance of dreams, intuition, the gratuitous cruelty of other human beings, and how to confront it, meeting his future wife, and ultimately the discovery of his own mortality. Ovlas studies, observes and tries to win control over himself and what surrounds him, but winds up learning that little can be done in the face of the inevitable, death. Spoiler alert: midway through the book, the reader discovers that this curious ceremony is Ovlas’ celebratory arrival into the afterlife.
Ovlas’ narration is problematic because it renounces the kind of narrative tricks that capture attention: foreshadowing, suspense, uncertainty about the fate of the characters. That said, Alberto Caballero’s writing has a higher than average level of quality, even for commercial books. It is meticulous, polished writing, treated with great care. This fluidity, with slightly poetic moments, contributes to this novel’s nostalgic feel, which is also one of its strengths.
The universe we are transported to is a crystallization of the golden moments of an entire lifetime. Though the book is flawed in its approach, the reader who comes to it looking for a story about traditional Latin American family life with transcendental touches will find their expectations happily met.
Overall, it is a book to read without hurry or impatience, searching for the poetry of the everyday in its prose.
Also available in ebook.