The Lime Tree
Author: César Aira
Translator: Chris Andrews
Original language: Spanish
Published by: And Other Stories, December 2017
Seeing double rows of elegant lime trees around the main square of his hometown of Colonel Pringles, our narrator – who could well be the author himself, although nothing is guaranteed in a book by César Aira – suddenly recalls the Sunday mornings of his childhood, when his father would take him to gather the lime-flower blossoms from which he made tea.
Beginning with his father, handsome and ‘black’ and working-class, and his strikingly grotesque mother, the narrator quickly leaps from anecdote to anecdote, bringing to life his father’s dream of upward mobility, the dashing of their family’s hopes when the Peronist party fell from power, the single room they all shared, and his mother’s litany of political rants, which were used – like the lime-flower tea – to keep his father calm.
Aira’s charming fictional memoir is a colourful mosaic of a small-town neighbourhood, a playful portrait of the artist as a child and an invitation to visit the source of Aira’s own extraordinary imagination.