Kalpa Imperial: The Greatest Empire That Never Was

kalpa imperial

In eleven chapters, Kalpa Imperial's multiple storytellers relate the story of a fabled nameless empire which has risen and fallen innumerable times. Fairy tales, oral histories, and political commentaries are all woven tapestry-style into Kalpa Imperial: beggars become emperors, democracies become dictatorships, and history becomes legends and stories. Kalpa Imperial is much more than a simple political allegory or fable. It is also a celebration of the power of storytelling. Gorodischer and Le Guin are a well-matched, sly and delightful team of magician-storytellers. Rarely have author and translator been such an effortless pairing. Kalpa Imperial is a powerful introduction to the writing of Ang‚lica Gorodischer, a novel that will enthrall readers already familiar with the worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin.

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“Ursula K. Le Guin, whose novel The Left Hand of Darkness (1969) is one of science fiction’s finest achievements, has translated a work by the Argentine writer Angelica Gorodischer. KALPA IMPERIAL: The Greatest Empire That Never Was (Small Beer Press, paper, $16) recounts the history of an imaginary empire in a series of tales that adopt the voice of a marketplace storyteller.... While the point of each tale eludes paraphrase, the cumulative burden is the imperfectibility of human society... Le Guin’s translation, which ranges from blunt to elegant to oracular, seems like the ideal medium for this grim if inescapable message.”
— Gerald Jonas, New York Times Sunday Book Review