Countries of Origin: A Novel
This stunning debut chronicles a tumultuous, passionate love affair between two young men from vastly different worlds during one, extraordinary summer in Spain, in what is ultimately a meditation on identity, class, belonging and desire.
“Full of so many pleasures—literary, culinary, amorous… Fuentes has created something beautiful, honest, heartbreaking and hopeful.” —Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Less Is Lost
It is 2007, and twenty-four-year-old Demetrio is a celebrated pastry chef in New York at the French restaurant Le Bourrelet. This will be his seventh year as the pâtissier and the chef-owner, stern but paternal, feels he should move on. When Demetrio is offered a position as head of pastries at the Four Seasons restaurant in New York, he wants nothing more than to accept it.
But as an undocumented immigrant he is terrified that he will be found out, so Demetrio makes the difficult decision to return permanently to his homeland which he has not seen since he was a small child. It will mean leaving the only family he knows—his beloved uncle Chus who has brought him up. On his flight to Madrid, Demetrio sits next to the handsome, playful, and sensitive Jacobo, a student at NYU going home to his aristocratic, fascist family and there is an instant, unacknowledged electricity between them.
In dimly lit bars in Madrid and on pebbled beaches by the sea far outside the city, Demetrio and Jacobo’s subtle but intense relationship unfolds. Demetrio is tortured by a fear of true intimacy and by anxiety about their class difference. Both are struggling with their identities and sexuality, and they avoid their true feelings until a family tragedy sets them on a collision course back into one another’s lives.
Countries of Origin is powerfully sensual and moving. Javier Fuentes takes you on a journey that will immerse you in the intense and heartbreaking emotions and conflicts of love and loss.
Praise for Countries of Origin: A Novel
A Best Book of the Summer from Bloomberg and Queer Forty
“The gift and burden of a social novel is to be both about and not about, striving to cover a topical issue while making sure the world and characters of the book feel real, not merely like symbols in service of an idea. Thankfully, in Fuentes’s hands, the ‘about’ . . . —the cruelty of borders—is woven in seamlessly with the ‘not about’ details that deepen and broaden Fuentes’s story. . . . Countries of Origin does what all memorable novels do: It leaves the reader’s world a little larger, airier and more forgiving than before.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“This debut novel will heat up your summer with a sensual love story between two young men in Spain. . . . Prepare for heartbreak, desire, loss and love.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“[A] touching and tender debut. . . . What Fuentes renders so beautifully, is that home is more than place alone.” —Electric Literature
“Fuentes, a 2018 Lambda Literary Fellow, has come charging out of the gate with a cool, terse debut.”
—Bloomberg, “Summer’s Best New Books Tackle War, Theft and Scandal on the Beach”
“One of the most moving, tender, wise novels I have read in years. This portrait of a man between countries and between lives, following the map of his own heart, delves deeply into the mystery of how we come to know ourselves exactly when we feel most lost. A gorgeous debut.”
—Stacey D’Erasmo, author of The Complicities
“Countries of Origin is a tender and heartfelt novel about homecoming in all its complexity and gay love in all its rawness and wonder. It paints a brilliant and evocative portrait of the city of Madrid as it slowly becomes a kind of home for our wandering hero.”
—Colm Tóibín, author of The Magician
“Countries of Origin is full of so many pleasures—literary, culinary, amorous—that one almost wants to save it for a special day. But don’t save it—read it today. Fuentes has created something beautiful, honest, heartbreaking and hopeful. It’s a great book. It’s the book to read right now.”
—Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Less Is Lost
“Fuentes’ first novel is a marvel of verisimilitude with a superbly realized setting and a perfectly apposite tone. His treatment of his complex, empathetic characters is psychologically acute, and their evolving relationship is believable and always engrossing. . . . a singularly successful debut.”
—Booklist, starred review