The central conceit of Alejandro Zambra’s Multiple Choice is simple: the text is structured in a manner that replicates the format of Chile’s Academic Aptitude Exam, which until 2003 was compulsory for all individuals wishing to enter higher education. The early sections of the book comprise a series of one-word multiple choice questions; these become longer and more complex as the test proceeds, culminating in a closing section, ‘Reading Comprehension’, in which the reader/pupil is presented with several short stories and then quizzed on them.
The protagonists in these flash fictions are fathers and sons, siblings, couples and absent lovers. For all the winking archness of the format, there is a poignancy to many of these micro-tales. One question invites the candidate to complete the sentence ‘Last night I dreamed you were a