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Joel Mauricio Isabel Ortiz

Devotion

There he is one day, standing in the supermarket. Sebastian. The man who abandoned Leandro six years ago, who literally vanished, never to be heard from again, leaving him in a permanent state of doom. Through the years of loneliness and isolation that followed, Leandro has dreamt of rewinding the tape and reuniting with the love of his life, the man he never stopped worshipping. And suddenly, his prayers are answered.

Together they walk through the strangely desolate streets of pandemic Stockholm: talking and trying to understand what happened to their relationship. They are both different people from when they last saw each other. Sebastian has made a brilliant career and tried to make amends with his painful past. Leandro has been at the very bottom of despair. Has enough changed to carry them forward, to rekindle the relationship that so abruptly came to an end? Is there a possibility of a happily ever after for them?

Their love isn’t easy, their shared history is both beckoning them and appearing as an obstacle between them. And Leandro’s best friend Mila is far from delighted with their reunion. Then there is the disease, that none of them dare to mention to anyone else. There is no end to what Sebastian would do for Leandro; and almost no end to what Leandro would give up to be with Sebastian. Until there is nothing more for him to give.

Devotion is a novel about love and sorrow, about despair and mercy. In a condensed and masterfully built-up narrative, Joel Mauricio Isabel Ortiz depicts an all-consuming passion, and the salvaging power of friendship when all else seems lost.

SHORTLISTED FOR PRISMA LITERATURE PRIZE 2023

Joel Mauricio Isabel

About the author

Ortiz

Joel Mauricio Isabel Ortiz was born in 1987 in Colombia and grew up in Norrköping. He is a writer, playwright, actor and director, and works, since 2021, as a dramaturgist at Kulturhuset Stadsteatern in Stockholm. Devotion is Ortiz’s second novel after the debut with The Song of a Son in 2018.

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About the book

There he is one day, standing in the supermarket. Sebastian. The man who abandoned Leandro six years ago, who literally vanished, never to be heard from again, leaving him in a permanent state of doom. Through the years of loneliness and isolation that followed, Leandro has dreamt of rewinding the tape and reuniting with the love of his life, the man he never stopped worshipping. And suddenly, his prayers are answered.

Together they walk through the strangely desolate streets of pandemic Stockholm: talking and trying to understand what happened to their relationship. They are both different people from when they last saw each other. Sebastian has made a brilliant career and tried to make amends with his painful past. Leandro has been at the very bottom of despair. Has enough changed to carry them forward, to rekindle the relationship that so abruptly came to an end? Is there a possibility of a happily ever after for them?

Their love isn’t easy, their shared history is both beckoning them and appearing as an obstacle between them. And Leandro’s best friend Mila is far from delighted with their reunion. Then there is the disease, that none of them dare to mention to anyone else. There is no end to what Sebastian would do for Leandro; and almost no end to what Leandro would give up to be with Sebastian. Until there is nothing more for him to give.

Devotion is a novel about love and sorrow, about despair and mercy. In a condensed and masterfully built-up narrative, Joel Mauricio Isabel Ortiz depicts an all-consuming passion, and the salvaging power of friendship when all else seems lost.

SHORTLISTED FOR PRISMA LITERATURE PRIZE 2023

Reviews

A beautiful braid, bright and visionary

Yes, there is a lot to contemplate about Devotion, and alongside the unassuming but visually precise style, it is one of the book’s main virtues. Ortiz is a rather deft depicter of Stockholm, the dawn and dusk fall just right over Leandro’s home turf around Mariatorget on Södermalm. /…/ the story of Leandro’s liberation and healing lingers after the reading. In the end, he sits there and plays Chopin in a church, and his emotional life and musical impulse seem to me to run together in an inextricable braid deep into the novel. A beautiful braid, bright and visionary.

Aftonbladet
a deeply moving story

Joel Mauricio Isabel Ortiz has a view of the world and of people which, when given its concentrated expression, results in sparkling formulations. Here, the vulnerability that the racialized person experiences every day, just by walking around and existing, creeps into everything, mixes with all the other kinds of vulnerability that a queer guy with Latino roots and a bleeding heart suffers from. And Joel Mauricio Isabel Ortiz portrays it so well, with perfect pitch. Leandro is vulnerable and pent-up with fury, and beside that, stubbornly, vibrantly alive. His total surrender to the adored, to Sebastian, is presented as completely understandable, the uncompromising love vital to the one who has never been properly attached to the world, like a kitten taken too soon from its mother. He writes about love so shimmeringly beautifully until it becomes both grotesquely distorted and life-threatening. /…/ it’s a deeply moving story about how new wounds tear open old ones and how the person who needs security the most, is the easiest pray to the greatest of dangers.

Svenska Dagbladet
Devotion is so engaging that I find myself really, really wanting it to end well
Expressen
It is both a heavy and tender portrait of two human lives colliding

This is Joel Mauricio Isabel Ortiz’s second novel, following the acclaimed debut The Song of a Son (2018). Devotion is an intense and deeply human story about love on the verge of religious worship /… / I especially appreciate how Joel Mauricio Isabel Ortiz allows his main characters to unfold slowly, with room for nuance and complexity. It is both a heavy and tender portrait of two human lives colliding.

Helsingborgs Dagblad
Devotion ends up being a surprisingly fine-tuned novel about addiction, faltering historiography and the nuances of queer life

Devotion ends up being a surprisingly fine-tuned novel about addiction, faltering historiography and the nuances of queer life – but it’s also a pandemic novel. Markers such as masks, isolation and restrictions at art galleries can sometimes be experienced as dated scenography, but that is not the effect here. Questions about disease, distance and who is actually allowed to get close are very close to the core of this novel, and that’s where they belong.

Dagens Nyheter

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