If the critic Ignacio Echevarría (via Caravana de recuerdos) was asked, the single most essential Aira was La liebre, which fortunately has already been translated. A good choice, I must say. The Hare, at a fair novel length, has the heft and substance of a long sojourn. Its adventures hover perilously between high and low entertainments, hanging as if at an angle of repose, at any moment at risk from falling off a cliff.... A lightning charge striking with all its pent-up electrical energy.... A short circuit of brain synapse.... A numinous moment in time.... And I will have to say that the prose of translator Nick Caistor, which was slightly inelegant and unpolished and neutral and wry, lent a certain understatement to the statement. It was Aira without the airbrush of beautiful writing, not the superhero but his alter-ego. In other words, this reader was not after exercises of perfection or near-perfection in a novelita. Let's face it. The long novel was the true test of a writer's métier. Arguable point, of course. But the form of the long novel, where anything can go wrong and the trappings of didacticism were ever present, where the temptation to over-deliver was stronger, where the writer struggles much harder to avoid false moves than make the right ones, the long form could provide a breath of fresher Aira. Publishers, take note. Go for the longer Aira, they were bound to be more spontaneous and more driven. And go for the critics' favorites. It would not hurt to consider "translating" the opinions of Spanish writers and critics.
In June 2013, New Directions is reissuing The Hare and publishing it for the first time in the US. How cool is that?