“Now I am going to tell the story of something that happened one night years ago, and the events of the morning and afternoon that followed.”
The Incompletes begins with this simple promise. But to try to get at the complete meaning of the day’s events, the narrator must first take us on an international tour—from the docks of Buenos Aires, to Barcelona, until we check in at the gloomy Hotel Salgado with the narrator’s transient friend Felix in Moscow. From scraps of information left behind on postcards and hotel stationery, the narrator hopes to reconstruct Felix’s stay there. With flights of imagination, he conjures up the hotel’s labyrinthine hallways, Masha, the captive hotel manager, and the city’s public markets, filled with piles of broken televisions.
Each character carries within them a secret that they don’t quite understand—a stash of foreign money hidden in the pages of a book, a wasteland at the edge of the city, a mysterious shaft of light in the sky. The Incompletes is a novel disturbed by this half-knowledge, haunted by the fact that any complete version of events is always just outside our reach.
“Sergio Chejfec’s The Incompletes is a masterfully nested narrative where writing—its presence on the page, its course through time, its prismatic dispersion of meaning—is the true protagonist. Heather Cleary’s flawless translation adds yet another layer to this extraordinary palimpsest of a novel.”—Hernan Diaz
"On first reading Chejfec, we recall many admired authors, but at a later moment—a more solid and lasting one—we realize that he resembles no one, and that he has chosen an unusual and quite distinctive path, one that reveals itself slowly because of the demanding and very personal searches the author himself carries out in his narrative."—Enrique Vila-Matas
"Just like you must accept dream logic when you're sleeping, you must accept The Incompletes for what it is, to allow the endless descriptions of rooms, city streets, broken televisions, the cold, peeling walls and dirty window panes, to take hold of you. In the end you'll stumble out of the book, a bit dazed, wondering what the hell you just read, but it's an enjoyable trek if you like beautiful sentences."—NPR
"It is hard to think of another contemporary writer who, marrying true intellect with simple description of a space, simultaneously covers so little and so much ground."—Times Literary Supplement
"If genius can be defined by the measure of depth of an artist's perception into human experience, then Chejfec is a genius."—Coffin Factory
"In a just world Sergio Chejfec would be on the lips of the most thoughtful and curious readers; The Incompletes straddles the line between fiction and travelogue, philosophy and dreams. The novel delves into memory, place, and the mysteries we can never know about ourselves. Beautifully translated, the story has not left my mind since I closed the book."—Mark Haber, Brazos Bookstore
"The Incompletes is, simply put, his best book, a "thriller" in a way for him, but the thing that got me is how it's also an inside out Madame Bovary."—Javier Molea, McNally Jackson
"A beautifully baffling book about the peripatetic wanderings of your own mind through the hotels, hallways, and postcards of the protagonists, or about the instability hiding in every apparently solid building, or maybe even how you don’t know an event is significant until some disconnected and celestial phenomenon illuminates it."—Josh Cook, Porter Square Books
"Reading Chejfec is magical."—Vertigo
"The Incompletes is a departure for the Argentine writer Sergio Chejfec. Or perhaps it’s just a variation on a favorite theme: the malleability of memory. The most literary of his novels, it openly plays with the concepts of perception, projection, and characterization."—Tara Cheeseman, On The Seawall