George Henson at The Quarterly Conversation:
Having read The Invented Part, it is not surprising that Fresán is often mentioned in the same breath as Bolaño and Cortázar; Bolaño because he is widely considered to be the Chilean’s heir, a folly that I will not elaborate on here, and because Fresán was also a close friend of his; and Cortázar because, as I stated above, The Invented Part is, rightly or wrongly, compared frequently to Cortázar’s magnum opus, Hopscotch; but more importantly because, like Bolaño’s and Cortázar’s translated works, The Invented Part is a welcome addition to the canon of translated Latin American literature.
Unlike Bolaño and Cortázar, however, the appearance of Fresán’s work in English has been belated and sparing. Of this ten books, only two have appeared in English: Kensington Gardens (Faber and Faber 2005), translated by Natasha Wimmer, and The Invented Part, translated skillfully by Will Vanderhyden and released in May of this year. Fortunately, Open Letter is scheduled to publish two other Fresán novels, The Bottom of the Sky (May 2018) and Mantra (TBD), “with plans to complete the Parts trilogy as well,” presumably—hopefully—in Vanderhyden’s translations.
Unfortunately, translators, perhaps out of professional courtesy, or the fear of being labeled the translation police, are hesitant to comment on fellow translators’ work. The task, then, inevitably falls to reviewers who, frankly, are unqualified to do so, and whose critiques inevitably make references to “fluency” and “invisibility” or recur to bromides like, “This translation reads as if it were written in English,” an observation that at best is a backhanded compliment.