Die, My Love by Ariana Harwicz translated by Sarah Moses and Caroline Orloff
I was drawn to this rage as the shadow-side of postnatal depression: she hates her baby, and the couple who created him, including herself. As it went on, and on, I tired of her sense of entrapment as much as she did and wished she’d put some of the energy she devoted to fury into something less destructive. There are hints of an education, and interest in writing, making me wonder if this Argentinian author’s debut novel was semiautobiographical. Longlisted for the Man Booker International and shortlisted for the Republic of Consciousness prizes in 2018, it’s admired by many, but not by me.
Holiday Heart by Margarita Garcia Robayo translated by Charlotte Coombe
Things come to a head when Pablo is diagnosed with heart disease and Lucia takes their six-year-old twins for a respite in a Miami aparthotel. Unflinchingly honest with touches of humour – albeit with time jumps that had me occasionally confused – this is an engaging novel about marriage, migration, snobbery and social class, and the hollow magnetism of the American Dream.
Dead Girls by Selva Almada translated by Annie McDermott
Having admired and enjoyed the author’s fiction, perhaps I paid insufficient attention to the publisher’s reference to journalistic fiction. Journalistic definitely, focusing both on the facts of the cases (plus a few others) and the author’s attempts to track them down, including regular visits to a medium and buying a litre bottle of Fanta in a café. Moving back and forth between the three women’s threads, I’m afraid I struggled to separate them in my head. I’d have liked less author and more fiction or, failing that, more context: is it relevant that these murders occurred as Argentina returned to democracy; was violence against women treated differently by the authorities and violence against men? I’m sure this book will find its right audience, but it’s not me.
First flight is the prompt for this week’s flash fiction challenge, so I’ve gone to South America – Peru in fact – with a 99-word story based on my travels over twenty years ago. In case you’re wondering, my Spanish isn’t great, but it was better then and I definitely wouldn’t have made this mistake! (I felt queasy enough as it was.)
“After breakfast is best. The first flight.”
Gulping coffee and empanadas de queso at sunrise before cycling to the airstrip, I wondered if I’d heard him right. My stomach lurched as the plane vaulted the perimeter fence. Just us, our guide and the pilot: no other tourists to block the view. Pre-Columbian geoglyphs etched in the desert: how did they make them? Why?
There’s the dog! The spider! The plane tilts, wings verging on horizontal. Hummingbird. Monkey. Tree. I cup my mouth, breakfast tastes sour the second time around. How did I misunderstand it? Definitely breakfast after: desayuno después.