In 2018, Hernan Diaz seemed to erupt from nowhere. Apparently out of the blue, his first novel In the Distance, was hailed enthusiastically all over the globe. Although his book was published by a tiny press, Diaz catapulted himself to the Pulitzer Prize shortlist without batting an eyelid. His life is exceptional anyway: born in Argentina, raised in Sweden, living in New York. His scope is as broad as his biography would suggest.
In the Distance has an unforgettable opening scene: a hulk-sized man ploughs his way through a plain of ice. He is old, naked, dying. We know barely anything at that point, except that he’s obviously a survivor. Next, Diaz starts to peel away his story and his history. The book is set in Alaska during the Gold Rush. In the Distance is a ‘northern’ western that strays into the realm of magical realism, a grand narrative full of dark humour, written by a South-American with a European perspective living in the US.