Napalm in the Heart: A Novel (Paperback)

Napalm in the Heart: A Novel By Pol Guasch, Mara Faye Lethem (Translated by) Cover Image

Napalm in the Heart: A Novel (Paperback)

By Pol Guasch, Mara Faye Lethem (Translated by)

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"Pol Guasch must be one of the best young writers working today. This novel is entirely resolute and clear-hearted." —Catherine Lacey, author of Biography of X

"Profoundly strange and beautiful, formally bold and lyrically elevated."
The Guardian

Survival is a moral quandary in this jagged, otherworldly debut charting forbidden love during an apocalypse.


In a near future devastated by war and unspecified natural disaster, a young man and his mother cling to survival at the edge of a forest. The young man spends his days taking care of the home and exchanging letters with his lover, Boris, who lives in a city on the other side of the woods. It's barely a life, but it's a life nonetheless, despite the menacing soldiers patrolling the land. But after the young man commits a brutal act of desperate violence to protect his mother, he leaves home to find the mercurial Boris, who travels with him on a search for safety. When the journey's demands threaten his precarious relationship with Boris as well as his own moral compass, the young man is forced to confront whether, in his effort to stay alive, he has become the very danger he fought to escape.

An award-winning novel from a blazingly original Catalonian writer, Pol Guasch’s Napalm in the Heart is breathtaking in its intimacy, poetry, and devastation. Spare and quick, Guasch's debut is an artful, affecting story of star-crossed love under siege and the moral murkiness of survival.

Pol Guasch is the author of two collections of poetry and two novels. The holder of a Master's Degree in Contemporary Literature, Culture, and Theory from King's College London, he is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Barcelona. He has also been a writer-in-residence at the Santa Maddalena Foundation in Florence, Italy and Art Omi in New York. His debut novel Napalm al cor, which has been translated into six languages, won the 2021 Anagrama Novel Prize, making Guasch the youngest winner in the prize's history. He lives in Barcelona.
Product Details ISBN: 9780374612955
ISBN-10: 0374612951
Publisher: FSG Originals
Publication Date: August 13th, 2024
Pages: 256
Language: English

"Skilfully composed, cohering into a lucent, compelling narrative . . . This profoundly strange and beautiful, formally bold and lyrically elevated novel gives the reader compelling storytelling and a space in which to think about love, freedom and survival, and a future to which we might be heading." —David Hayden, The Guardian

"The bare facts are ghoulishly extreme, yet disbelief is suspended as in a fairy tale . . . The grotesque acquires peculiar beauty thanks to the narrowness of the imagery, restricted to evocations of carnality and death: viscosity, sickly phosphorescence and greedy voids, juxtaposed with a matter-of-factness that makes horror ordinary." —Lorna Scott Fox, TLS

"A haunting and inventive debut novel . . . Politically wistful, brimming with queer desire, this novel evokes an end of days which might not be far beyond us." —Andrés Ordorica, The Skinny (UK)

"[Guasch] seeks out this tension between violence and tenderness, between the degeneration of a broken world and the traces of humanity that still exist in it . . . [Napalm in the Heart is] a poet’s novel—for better, not for worse. Brimming with energy, what buoys it are clever ideas and some beautiful turns of phrase, deftly translated from the Catalan by Maya Faye Lethem." —Pablo Scheffer, The Telegraph (UK)

"Bleakly brilliant [and] elegantly lyrical . . . Worthy of Cormac McCarthy on the one hand [and] evoking Albert Camus on the other . . . [Napalm in the Heart is] an extraordinarily beautiful depiction of an extraordinarily ugly—and wholly credible—world in the making.” Kirkus (starred review)

"Starkly beautiful . . . The fractured narrative, which unfolds like a series of prose poems, is intercut with Boris’s abstract photographs, offering a record of their exodus and adding to the jagged testament to queer love. This is arresting.” Publishers Weekly

"Reading this book was an out-of-body experience. Set in the near future, life as we know it is over. Something devastating happened and Guasch drops readers right in it. The book is a meditation on survival told very artfully. It felt so safe but also so dangerous at the same time. It may be about the end of the world, but it felt like the beginning of something new. I must read more Guasch." —Adam Vitcavage, Debutiful

"Pol Guasch must be one of the best young writers working today. This novel is entirely resolute and clear-hearted." Catherine Lacey, author of Biography of X

"Pol Guasch creates an atmosphere that is menacing and powerfully dramatic, but he is also a poet who is interested in image and tone, in texture and rhythmic variation. This mixture gives his innovative and original novel a mesmeric force, wonderfully captured in this translation." —Colm Tóibín, author of Long Island

"Pol Guasch has written a punk novel whose title quotes Iggy Pop's 'heart full of napalm,' but there is no rock here and no animal roaming the streets. We instead find ourselves in a mysterious world of the future, or of the past. It is a world of desire and survival, in the aftermath of an apocalypse marked by different languages, obscure repression, and prose as mysterious as it is beautiful." Mariana Enríquez, author of Our Share of Night

"Eerie and compelling, Napalm in the Heart retains its mystery without sacrificing any of its dramatic action. A gripping debut." —Nicole Flattery, author of Nothing Special

"Pol Guasch has crafted in his story a struggle for existence that never gives up on his characters' dreams. Napalm in the Heart challenges the boundaries between delicacy and brutality, creating an unforgettable novel in the process." —Alejandro Zambra, author of Chilean Poet

"Napalm in the Heart is a lyrical gut-punch of a novel about one man’s search for purpose at the bitter end of a bitterer world. As I followed the unnamed narrator’s journey across post-apocalyptic ruins and militarized borders—meeting his forbidden lover, mourning the dead, and witnessing his increasingly brutal acts of violence—I came to see anew the horror of our own political present. In this book, Pol Guasch has given us a ruthless and appropriately deranged reminder to fight." —Maggie Millner, author of Couplets

"What is the language of love? What is the grammar of survival? Pol Guasch sketches a beautiful response to these urgent questions, weaving a powerful tale of desire and resistance in which an old world is mourned and a new world is imagined. Reading this book is like traversing a dark forest and spotting, when night seemed to devour it all, the light of the fireflies as the glimmer of hope. A beautiful tale of survival, love and resistance." —Carlos Fonseca, author of Austral