Black Cat
Black Cat
Black Cat

The Antiquarian

by Gustavo Faveron Patriau

Part murder mystery, part exploration of the antiquarian book world, and all modern gothic masterpiece, this sophisticated and spellbinding debut novel is one you “will never forget” (Mario Vargas Llosa).

  • Imprint Black Cat
  • Page Count 224
  • Publication Date June 03, 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2160-8
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $16.00

About The Book

Three years have passed since Gustavo, a renowned psycholinguist, last spoke to his closest friend, Daniel, who has been interned in a psychiatric ward for murdering his fiancée. When Daniel unexpectedly calls to confess the truth behind the crime, Gustavo’s long buried fraternal loyalty resurfaces and draws him into the center of a quixotic, unconventional investigation through an underground network of antiquarian dealers.

While Daniel reveals his unsettling story using fragments of fables, novels, and historical allusions, Gustavo begins to retrace the past for clues: from their early college days exploring dust-filled libraries and exotic brothels to Daniel’s intimate attachment to his sickly younger sister and his dealings as a book collector. As the circumstances grow increasingly macabre and intricate with every turn, Gustavo is forced to deduce a complex series of events from allegories that are more real than police reports and metaphors more revealing than evidence. And when a woman in the ward is found murdered, Daniel is declared the prime suspect, and Gustavo plummets deeper into the mysterious case.

With sumptuous prose and haunting imagery, Faverón-Patriau has crafted an unforgettable, labyrinthine tale about heartbreak and suffering, the healing power of stories, and the unbreakable bonds of friendship. The Antiquarian is a spellbinding novel of murder, madness, and passion that is as entertaining as it is erudite and dark as it is illuminating.

Tags Literary


“Delightfully macabre. . . . A novel in which storytelling can prove redemptive, but it can also kill. . . . The Antiquarian is steeped in alienation, shame, mourning and disgust. It is intelligently conceived and well executed. Rather than serve up a tantalizing mystery with a tidy resolution, this book does the opposite, demolishing the ‘facts’ and assumptions amassed along the way. It has hundreds of intricate pieces. Once you finish reading, you may feel compelled to take it apart, figure out how it works and begin again.” —Carmela Ciuraru, New York Times

“An ambitious, complex novel . . . those who read by simultaneously working with the writer, fantasizing alongside him, capable of enjoying the subtleties and secrets of a text as rich and profound as the text of this novel, will never forget it.” —Mario Vargas Llosa

“Absorbing . . . a pitch-black literary thriller that locates the thin line that separates love and horror.” —Wayne Roylance, New York Public Library (10 Summer Reads)

“[The Antiquarian] possesses much of the unease and horror characteristic of Bolaño’s work . . . beautiful and beguiling. . . . This perfect blend of page-turning narrative and knockout prose is as good as it gets—Patriau’s book is pure pitch-black fun.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A masterful debut in which a Peruvian literary critic and scholar crafts a meta-mystery that explores identity, deceit, guilt and narrative. . . . Rarely does a literary mystery work on as many levels as this.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“At once heartbreaking and redemptive . . . [The Antiquarian] illuminates a deep interconnection between horror and love.” —Booklist (starred review)

“Unbelievably well-written. . . . My copy of The Antiquarian is already worn out like an old, favorite paperback, and it features more margin marks and underlines than any other 2014 book I read. . . . [It is] tirelessly brilliant.” —Gabe Habash, Publishers Weekly (A Best Book of the Year)

“An inexplicable murder, a logorrheic mental patient, and a macabre black market are wrapped in layers of mystery and revealed in multiple interlocking narratives. It’s an elegant meditation on storytelling (and a real page-turner).” —Susan Harris, Words Without Borders

“Gustavo Faverón-Patriau has written a dark, cruel and thrilling gem of a novel. There are shades of Borges fabulism here, and Calvino’s Invisible Cities, but something more mysterious too, something gothic, something macabre. The Antiquarian is a novel about literature, war, madness and friendship, a startling read from the first sentence to the last.” —Daniel Alarcón, author of Lost City Radio and At Night We Walk in Circles

“A splendid neo-gothic tale. . . . It’s the kind of read that alters your experience of reading.” —Dennis Haritou, Three Guys One Book

“A dazzling and unforgettable meditation on deception, obsession, and the search for truth. How rare it is to find a novel of ideas that never fails to entertain. How rare it is to find a novel that marries intelligent, intricate plotting with richly rewarding prose. I was privileged to find such a novel in The Antiquarian, and once I had fallen headlong into Gustavo Faverón-Patriau’s mysterious and mythic creation, I couldn’t bear to leave it.” —Laura van den Berg, author of The Isle of Youth

The Antiquarian begins with intentional echoes of Borges and Auster only to later on distance itself and create its own unsettling narrative world. The atmosphere is that of terror, yet what is frightening has nothing to do with Gothic ghosts, but rather with the inner workings of the soul, with the strange fraternal bonds that join us together and divide us. Gustavo Faver”n has written a superb novel.” —Edmundo Paz Soldón

“A genre-blending novel, a complete immersion that delves into a lesser-used niche of genre: horror, gothic, the weird. . . . Plot and mystery do drive the book, but the intricate prose makes it so that even when you know what is about to be revealed, you want to see the tricks of language that get us there. . . . The Antiquarian encourages the thrill of reading, forcing you to move quicker and quicker, unsure if you are escaping or falling into a trap, as the end nears.” —Three Percent

“A tour de force, as intellectual as it is visceral.” —Luis Hernón Castañeda

“An anomalous thriller that creates its own rules, while responding to the question of what kind of literature can be written in a society that has been devastated by political violence. The Antiquarian is written from that uncertain limit: the mystery that become horror.” —Álvaro Bisama


A Los Angeles Times Best of Summer pick
An Amazon Best Book of the Month (Mystery, Thriller & Suspense)
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Summer: “The best literary puzzle of the summer.”
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year


Three years had gone by since the night when Daniel killed Juliana, and on the telephone his voice sounded like someone else’s. As if nothing had happened, he called to invite me to lunch. As if lunch with him still meant going to a casually chosen restaurant or to his parents’ house, where we used to hang out, surrounded by shelves packed with books, manuscripts, notepads, and bundles of papers folded into quarters, and corbels stuffed with thousands of volumes with amber spines, cracked leather covers, and glistening dust jackets. As if visiting him still meant, like it did before, ascending that wrought iron spiral staircase toward the library-bedroom in which Daniel used to spend every waking hour of the day, day upon day, week after week, deciphering marginalia in tomes that no one reads anymore, having breakfast and lunch in his pajamas, putting his feet up on the desk, with a magnifying glass in his left hand and an expression of astonishment rippling across his face.

Back then, it did not mean entering that awful place where they had interned him, or rather, where he had interned himself in order to escape an even more confining prison. Daniel had been my closest friend since our early college days. We were inseparable during those now distant years, when our vocations were being decided and with them, our lives.