From September 15 to October 15 it’s celebrated in the US the Hispanic Heritage Month, and in the bookish community we also have the Latinx Book Bingo – I decided this year to mix both and read only Latin American books by Spanish-speaking authors, and only works in translation. I failed very quickly because I immediately proceeded to forget I was supposed to read only Spanish-speaking authors and ended up adding Brazilian books to my list, so I guess it’s now a Latin American Month.
Here is what I read this month!
Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin, translated by Megan McDowell and Ruth Sepp
Samantha Schweblin made it to my auto-buy list this year! I loved Little Eyes a few weeks ago and really enjoyed Fever Dream now as well. This is a short, intense and – well – feverish novel that feels surreal to read and very entrancing.
The Luminous Novel by Mario Levrero, translated by Annie McDermott
Okay so I had mixed feelings about this novel – I loved the format, the idea of it, and the writing was so amusing and at times this was quite brilliant. It speaks really well of the writer’s ability that a book about nothing really happening for 500 pages could be entertaining. But! The author himself did not quite agree with me – there is a lot of homophobic tones to some of the diary entries, plus his entire dependency on women and the way he keeps judging their looks, it was exhausting. And the pornography parts were disgusting. When he was talking about computers and the pigeon and detective it was a VERY good read, but I can’t think of anyone I know who would enjoy the book but also be able to overlook these issues. They surely bothered me.
Rilke Shake by Angélica Freitas
I read this one in the original Portuguese instead of the translation, and I did enjoy it, Angélica Freitas’ style is so fun, unique and I do love how she inserts storytelling into her poems. But I did much prefer her latest poems collection (Canções de atormentar) to this one, which seemed a bit disjointed – her new book felt a lot more personal and touching.
Cockfight by María Fernanda Ampuero, translated by Frances Riddle
This was definitely a brutal, bleak read. It’s a collection of stories about violence masquerading as love, about people who live in the margin, cruelty, trauma and so much more. Still, it was such a compelling read! An incredible book.
The Dangers of Smoking in Bed: Stories by Mariana Enríquez, translated by Megan McDowell
I LOVED this! I adore dark, creepy stories, I adore stories where magic is interwoven seamlessly into the world, and Mariana Enríquez’ books just hit the spot for me. This and Things We Lost in the Fire are my absolute favorites (Este É o Mar not so much!), and I’m excited to read anything else she writes.
O Avesso da Pele by Jeferson Tenório
Another cheat read! This is also a Brazilian book about a young man looking back on his family’s past, traumas and life after his father is killed by the police for being black. It took me a while to warm to the writing style (I’m not a big fan of the short, almost truncated sentences) but once I got used to it, the writer’s ability to write such complex and nuanced characters really shone and I ended up really enjoying this!
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez, translated by Edith Grossman
Ok so I am actually taking a guess here. I am right now on vacation as you might know and this is one of two physical books that I took with me, so I expect that by now I’ve picked it up. Hopefully I’ll love it!