A provocative, irreverent autobiographical novel that reckons with the legacy of colonialism through one Peruvian woman's family ties to both colonised and coloniser. Translated from Spanish by Julia Sanches.

Alone in an ethnographic museum in Paris, Gabriela Wiener is confronted with her unusual inheritance. She is visiting an exhibition of pre-Columbian artefacts, the spoils of European colonial plunder, many of them from her home country of Peru. Peering through the glass, she sees sculptures of Indigenous faces that resemble her own - but the man responsible for pillaging them was her own great-great-grandfather, Austrian colonial explorer Charles Wiener. In the wake of her father’s death, Gabriela begins delving into all she has inherited from her paternal line. From the brutal trail of racism and theft Charles was responsible for, to revelations of her father’s infidelity, she traces a legacy of abandonment, jealousy and colonial violence, and questions its impact on her own struggles with desire, love and race in a polyamorous relationship. 

Undiscovered was longlisted for the International Booker Prize 2024, announced on March 11 2024.
 

Longlisted
The International Booker Prize 2024
Published by
Pushkin Press
Publication date

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Portrait of author Gabriela Wiener

Gabriela Wiener

About the Author

Gabriela Wiener is a Peruvian writer and journalist based in Madrid who won Peru’s National Journalism Award for her investigative report on violence against women.

More about Gabriela Wiener
 Julia Sanches

Julia Sanches

About the Translator

Julia Sanches has translated over twenty books from Spanish, Portuguese, and Catalan into English.
More about Julia Sanches

What the International Booker Prize 2024 judges said

‘A compelling search for identity that explores the complicated relationship between the person you want to be and the stories of the past that might have made you. This is an exploration of colonialism’s surprising effects on a writer investigating her antecedents and ancestors starting from a display case of Peruvian artefacts in Paris and ending in a story of family, love and desire.’ 

Group photo of the International Booker Prize 2024 Judges; Romesh Gunesekera, Natalie Diaz, William Kentridge, Eleanor Wachtel and Aaron Robertson.

What the critics said

Bartolomeo Sala, Frieze

‘Wiener deploys humour and sex throughout these pages, so much so that one might feel she is trying to merely provoke, as well as exonerate herself by dancing around the roots of her behaviour without really confronting it. However, far from being a cop out or an academic exercise, this meandering serves a clear purpose: conveying what it feels like to be an oppressed subject. Whatever the relationship between the author and the ethnographer – being a queer, brown, immigrant woman living in a xenophobic, patriarchal world means being continuously haunted by his spectre.’

NPR

Undiscovered has an appealingly raw, confessional tone, but its prose is highly polished. Sanches’ translation does not have an extraneous word. It is also—fittingly, for a book about post-colonial history—committed to retaining the original text’s Peruvian-ness… . Gabriela, who calls herself ‘the most Indian of the Wieners,’ cannot forget that: In Sanches’ exceptional translation, neither can anyone else.’

Electric Literature

‘A rollicking decolonial fact-fiction remix of … [Wiener’s family] histories, the life of her great-great grandfather, the explorer Charles Wiener, and how all this time plays out in her own body, and her current life, and polyamorous household in Madrid.’

BookPage

‘Even as it probes the author’s own family legacy, Undiscovered reminds readers of the importance of confronting the white-savior myths that form the basis of so much of what we call ‘history.’

Other nominated books by Julia Sanches

Boulder