Welcome to Vivo, where the only cemetery is run by old Mateus and his dog, God. Mateus’s eyes aren’t so good these days, which is why he has been burying bodies in the wrong graves, and also why, while out walking with God, he trips over a young homeless girl. On a whim, Mateus decides to appoint the girl, Novo, as his apprentice.
Novo, who has been sleeping on the street with a dog-eared copy of The Savage Detectives as her pillow, is determined to reorganise the cemetery, but she will have to hurry: buried awry, divorced from their names, the ghosts of Vivo are accumulating, unable to proceed to the afterlife without knowing who they are. Also, someone, or some thing, is on the loose, killing people and closing in on the one person who can make things right.
Vivo is a town with a pigeon-messaging service, a phone booth used for romantic encounters, and a number of residents who are not quite what they seem, including a prostitute, a professor and a prophetic flower-seller. Oh, and the coffee is hellishly strong. Erudite and wise, magical and quirky, Sven Axelrad’s debut novel is an enchanting adventure that explores what our names mean to us and who we are without them.