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July 18 , 2010

Where the Bird Sings Best



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Po povodu dramaticheskih proizvedenij Tolstogo

A work of literary criticism by Anatoly Fedorovich Kony (1844—1927), originally published in 1911.

There has never been an artist like the polymathic Chilean director, author, and mystic Alejandro Jodorowsky. For eight decades, he has blazed new trails across a dazzling variety of creative fields. While his psychedelic, visionary films have been celebrated by the likes of John Lennon, Marina Abramovic, and Kanye West, his novels—praised throughout Latin America in the same breath as those of Gabriel García Márquez—have remained largely unknown in the English-speaking world. Until now. 

Where the Bird Sings Best tells the fantastic story of the Jodorowskys’ emigration from Ukraine to Chile amidst the political and cultural upheavals of the 19th and 20th centuries. Like One Hundred Years of Solitude, Jodorowsky’s book transforms family history into heroic legend: incestuous beekeepers hide their crime with a living cloak of bees, a czar fakes his own death to live as a hermit amongst the animals, a devout grandfather confides only in the ghost of a wise rabbi, a transgender ballerina with a voracious sexual appetite holds a would-be saint in thrall. Kaleidoscopic, exhilarating, and erotic, Where the Bird Sings Best expands the classic immigration story to mythic proportions.


"Jodorowsky is today’s true Renaissance man—a master of many mediums that all point directly towards a towering and imaginative vision replete with profound insights into the real by way of the surreal. The stories told in Where the Bird Sings Bestcontain deep moral lessons, giving his mythic immigration story the feel of a modern day Sefer-ha-Aggadah—the classic collection of Jewish folk tales drawn from the Mishnah, Midrash, and Talmud. This long awaited and brilliantly evocative translation is a must read—frightening, hilarious, outrageous, touching, and (as is always with Jodorowsky’s work) filled with a deep core of mystic truth."

—John Zorn

“This epic family saga, reminiscent of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Cien años de soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude) in structure and breadth, reads at a breakneck pace. Though ostensibly a novelization of the author's own family history, it is a raucous carnival of the surreal, mystical, and grotesque....It weaves together Jewish philosophy, passion, humor, Tarot, ballet, circuses, natural disasters, spectacular suicides, lion tamers, knife throwers, Catholic devotion, farmers, betrayals, prostitutes, leftist politics, political violence, and the ghost of a wise rabbi who follows the family from the Old World to the New.”

—Publishers Weekly

"I divide the world into two categories: the originals, and the ones who follow. The originals are the people looking differently, who take the simple elements of everyday life and make miracles. And for me, Alejandro, you are the one original."  

–Marina Abramović

"A man whose life has been defined by cosmic ambitions."

–The New York Times Magazine

"A man of many talents, all at the service of his bizarre imagination....A great eccentric original....A legendary man of many trades….The quality that Jodorowsky has above all is passionate sincerity. Apart from his wildly creative style, apart from his images, apart from his story inventions, he has strong moral feelings.”

–Roger Ebert

“Alejandro Jodorowsky is one of the most inspiring artists of our time. His bravery, fearlessness, and relentless innovation is a reminder of true creativity in a world full of people who hold back their true thoughts out of fear and corporate reasons. I would like to take the opportunity to thank him for inspiring a generation of brave new thinkers. I watched The Holy Mountain on repeat while working on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. His sensibilities drove me to make my most progressive work to that date. Simply put, Jodorowsky is a prophet of creativity. For those who know, the mere mention of his name commands respect."

—Kanye West

"A modern prophet."

—VICE Magazine

About the Author

Alejandro Jodorowsky was born to Ukrainian Jewish immigrants in Tocopilla, Chile. From an early age, he became interested in mime and theater; at the age of 23, he left for Paris to pursue the arts, and has lived there ever since. A friend and companion of Fernando Arrabal and Roland Topor, he founded the Panic movement and has directed several classic films of this style, including The Holy Mountain, El Topo and Santa Sangre. A mime artist, specialist in the art of tarot, and prolific author, he has written novels, poetry, short stories, essays, and over thirty successful comic books, working with such highly regarded comic book artists as Moebius and Bess. Restless Books will be publishing three of Jodorowsky's best-known books for the first time in English: Donde mejor canta un pájaro (Where the Bird Sings Best), El niño del jueves negro (The Son of Black Thursday), and Albina y los hombres perro (Albina and the Dog Men).

About the Translator

Alfred MacAdam is professor of Latin American literature at Barnard College-Columbia University. He has translated works by Carlos Fuentes, Mario Vargas Llosa, Juan Carlos Onetti, José Donoso, and Jorge Volpi among others. He recently published an essay on the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa included in the Cambridge Companion to Autobiography.

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