False Calm

False Calm


A Journey Through the Ghost Towns of Patagonia

María Sonia Cristoff

Translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver

Part reportage, part personal essay, part travelogue, False Calm is the breakout work by Argentinian author María Sonia Cristoff. Writing against romantic portrayals of Patagonia, Cristoff returns home to chronicle the ghost towns left behind by the oil boom. In prose that showcases her sharp powers of observation, Cristoff explores Patagonia’s complicated legacy through the lost stories of its people and the desolate places they inhabit.

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With time I have reached the conclusion that, as it is in my personal history, isolation is present in everything I have ever read about Patagonia. Everything, I repeat, though I don’t think this is the place to make lists. I returned to write an account of this eminently Patagonian characteristic. I wanted to see the shapes it takes today; I wanted to locate it at its furthest extremes.



"A bold, beautiful book."—The New York Times

False Calm bears little relation to most travelogues . . . It's not exploration; it's portraiture."—NPR

“An artful, atmospheric, thought-provoking depiction of life between silence and open space.”—Los Angeles Review of Books

"Fascinating, informative, and ultimately a pleasure to read."—World Literature Today

"A marvelous chronicle."—Publishers Weekly

"Personal memoir, travelogue, and history combine in María Sonia Cristoff’s False Calm, a journey that peels back the layers of the ghostly fog blanketing Patagonia to reveal engrossing complexity."—Foreword Reviews

“Cristoff writes with a razor-sharp voice, and her insight and ability to inhabit the voices of Patagonia—her success as a ‘two-voiced narrator’—make this book a tremendous success.”—Rain Taxi

“A magnificent example of a chronicler-essayist narrator: a unique species of those who are possibly on the way to extinction.”—Alejandra Costamagna

"Captivating, intelligent, where the silent strength reaches beyond the real at hand.”—Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung


First Published: October 2, 2018
5.25 x 8 | 248 pages
Rights: NA
978-1-945492-14-3 (paperback)
978-1-945492-21-1 (ebook)