The Scale of Maps
A novel by Belén Gopegui
translated by Mark Schafer
City Lights Books, 2011

"A novel and its protagonist create one another, in a tale strung between the work of Cervantes and Nabokov."

Sergio Prim is a staid and solitary middle-aged man who finds himself suddenly in love. A geographer by trade, but with a broken radar when it comes to navigating human relationships, he is thrown into a psychological crisis by the romantic advances of Brezo Varela, a lively young woman who shares his profession. Haunted by a series of hallucinations in which he's relentlessly pursued by a cynical, vampire-like seductress whose promises of pleasure fill him with horror, Prim attempts to seek refuge by immersing himself in an obsessive metaphysical quest: he determines that he must map the way to a place in which love never results in disillusionment. The Scale of Maps is the story of Prim's struggle to choose between living in the external world that his lover inhabits or continuing to hide in the "hollows" of his inner world; an intimate and mercilessly revealing examination of a meager and fearful life challenged by desire.