Perla will be released in the United States on March 27, exactly five weeks from today. In Norway, the book launches next week, and I will soon be flying to Oslo to celebrate with Norwegian readers. Even though this day has long been coming, it feels strange to suddenly feel it around the corner.
Novels are a long, slow affair. The idea for this book cooked for a year before I started writing it in earnest, in January of 2007. Since then, it has accompanied me through all the other changes in my life – including launching my first novel and becoming a mother. A novel demands that you work on it, and with it, over the years, growing alongside it, stretching your own limits to meet its evolving demands. You devote yourself to its invisible world, day after day, season after season. Few people, if any, see the fruits of your labors along the way. It’s like painting a secret mural on the back of an enormous building, where only you have access. Every day you get up and add paint to that gargantuan surface, brushstroke after brushstroke, for what seems like forever. Then somehow, at some time, you are finished, you submit the work into another’s care, and before you know it the building turns 180 degrees and your work is exposed to the street.
The exposure is both exciting and startling.
With Perla, I’ve been deeply moved to hear early readers talk about the way the book opens gates for them to discover recent Argentinean history, specifically the aftermath of disappearances and their intimate effects on families and the nation as a whole. These are stories, not only of pain, but of immense human courage, and of love’s survival against the odds – stories as universally resonant as they are particular. I have been honored to swim through these stories to write Perla.