Synopsis: The year is 1869. A brutal triple murder in a remote community in the Scottish Highlands leads to the arrest of a young man by the name of Roderick Macrae.
A memoir written by the accused makes it clear that he is guilty, but it falls to the country’s finest legal and psychiatric minds to uncover what drove him to commit such merciless acts of violence.
Was he mad? Only the persuasive powers of his advocate stand between Macrae and the gallows.
Graeme Macrae Burnet tells an irresistible and original story about the provisional nature of truth, even when the facts seem clear. His Bloody Project is a mesmerising literary thriller set in an unforgiving landscape where the exercise of power is arbitrary.
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 if anyone would like to participate!
I normally don’t participate on those readathons because honestly I read a lot of Latinx books all year anyway (mostly Brazilian!) but since I wanted to read a few more non-Brazilian Latinx reads this year (I’ve been reading SO many Brazilian books, it’s been such a joy), I thought it would be a good opportunity to pick up Hispanic Latinx books (so, books from Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America). I will not be following any particular rules, these are just some books on my TBR that happened to be Latinx & Hispanic and I think it’s a great time to read them! These are all books in translation, by the way, and a mix of recently published translations and backlisted titles, plus one classic novel. No idea if I’ll be able to read all of them until October 15 but I can try!
Some links with reading recommendations if you’d like to pick something up but don’t know where to start:
My Friend Anna: The True Story of a Fake Heiress by Rachel DeLoache Williams
Categories: Non-Fiction, True Crime
First Publication Date: July 23rd 2019
Vanity Fair photo editor Rachel DeLoache Williams’s new friend Anna Delvey, a self-proclaimed German heiress, was worldly and ambitious. She was also generous. When Anna proposed an all-expenses-paid trip to Marrakech, Rachel jumped at the chance. But when Anna’s credit cards mysteriously stopped working, the dream vacation quickly took a dark turn. Anna asked Rachel to begin fronting costs—first for flights, then meals and shopping, and, finally, for their $7,500-per-night private villa. Before Rachel knew it, more than $62,000 had been charged to her credit cards. Anna swore she would reimburse Rachel the moment they returned to New York.
Back in Manhattan, the repayment never materialized, and a shocking pattern of deception emerged. Rachel learned that Anna had left a trail of deceit—and unpaid bills—wherever she’d been. Mortified, Rachel contacted the district attorney, and in a stunning turn of events, found herself helping to bring down one of the city’s most notorious con artists.
My Friend Anna was such a juicy story about Rachel and her friendship with Anna Delvey, and how she ended up getting scammed by her. I really wanted to enjoy this book, which was very entertaining at times, and I love a good gossip-y book, but at the same time, the narrator was so incredibly insufferable, I actually resented being in her head for such a long time. This read like such an indulgent, biased recounting with absolutely no introspection. Any “mistake” the author made is because she was “raised right” and is full of “trust and compassion” unlike of course Anna, who is pure evil. I guess this is because she must have gotten so much sh*t when the story blew up with people blaming her for getting scammed, and obviously that was not her fault at ALL, but this book tried way too hard to hammer this point into the reader’s head. And it was so, so indulgent. This was, seriously at least 30% only about Rachel’s work at Vanity Fair which I did NOT care for at all. Tell me only the relevant stuff! I don’t care who her boss was photographing or who was at that glamorous event, I really don’t. This could have been easily 100 pages shorter and that would have been a better read. I had initially given it 3 stars but every time I think about this book I can only remember how annoyed at the narrator I was, so I bumped it down to 2.
I would still recommend if you’re really into the story, I think it’s worth it for the juicy bits!
In two days we will finally find out the winner of the 2021 Women’s Prize for Fiction! I am less excited than I was a few months ago because honestly it’s been A While – the longlist was announced back in March, the shortlist in April and then after almost five months my enthusiasm has dampened a bit. But still I love seeing other people’s guesses on who the winner will be and as the day of the winner announcement approaches, I’m sure I will get more excited!
So, since it’s been so long, here a quick recap…
The longlist was an interesting mix of commercial titles, big names on the literary world and exciting debuts. Although I wished there had been a lot more diversity and challenging, unique titles, it was still a pretty solid list that actually had me excited to pick up most of the books. It was also fantastic to see a trans author get longlisted (with THE most vibrant, characters-coming-off-the-page novel in the whole bunch); even if they made the poor choice of also including Craig’s book, considering her very outspoken transphobic opinions. Here is the full list, with the shortlisted books marked in bold.
In September we have both Sapphic September all month (hosted by Iandice) and the Latinx Book Bingo from Sept 15 to Oct 15 (hosted by Sofia and Paola), and every year from mid September until end of September I try to find a few books that fit both readathons so I can make DOUBLE progress – so I thought I’d share them with you! I have a few more on my TBR, but I don’t want to recommend books I haven’t read yet. I am adding to the Latinx umbrella also Latinx diaspora. This is a short list but I am working on expanding it!
It Is Wood, It Is Stone by Gabriella Burnham
This novel will work better if you are not a Brazilian reader, in my opinion, and would like to travel there one day; you get to see a bit of São Paulo, get to know a bit of the culture and so on, but for a Brazilian reader the exposition will be a bit redundant and not quite going deep enough. If you enjoy contemporaries leaning a bit towards literary fiction, you might enjoy this!
With sharp, gorgeous prose, It Is Wood, It Is Stone takes place over the course of a year in São Paulo, Brazil, in which two women’s lives intersect.
Linda, an anxious and restless American, has moved to São Paulo, with her husband, Dennis, who has accepted a yearlong professorship. As Dennis submerges himself in his work, Linda finds herself unmoored and adrift, feeling increasingly disassociated from her own body. Linda’s unwavering and skilled maid, Marta, has more claim to Linda’s home than Linda can fathom. Marta, who is struggling to make sense of complicated history and its racial tensions, is exasperated by Linda’s instability. One day, Linda leaves home with a charismatic and beguiling artist, whom she joins on a fervent adventure that causes reverberations felt by everyone, and ultimately binds Marta and Linda in a profoundly human, and tender, way.
An exquisite debut novel by young Brazilian American author Gabriella Burnham, It Is Wood, It Is Stone is about women whose romantic and subversive entanglements reflect on class and colorism, sexuality, and complex, divisive histories.
In The Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
One of the best non-fictions I’ve ever read! The way the author manages to mix writing styles makes this both an interesting and a very absorbing read. This is a heartbreaking memoir about the author’s experience with an abusive relationship and it was truly a wonderful (and sad) read.
For years Carmen Maria Machado has struggled to articulate her experiences in an abusive same-sex relationship. In this extraordinarily candid and radically inventive memoir, Machado tackles a dark and difficult subject with wit, inventiveness and an inquiring spirit, as she uses a series of narrative tropes—including classic horror themes—to create an entirely unique piece of work which is destined to become an instant classic.
Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez
One of my favorite short story collections of all time! I love horror and Mariana Enriquez managed to infuse her stories with such perfect atmosphere for the Latin American horror stories I heard as a kid, it was like being transported back in time to when I whispered stories with my friends. Such a treasure. Some of the stories are Sapphic but not all of them.
In these wildly imaginative, devilishly daring tales of the macabre, internationally bestselling author Mariana Enriquez brings contemporary Argentina to vibrant life as a place where shocking inequality, violence, and corruption are the law of the land, while military dictatorship and legions of desaparecidos loom large in the collective memory. In these stories, reminiscent of Shirley Jackson and Julio Cortázar, three young friends distract themselves with drugs and pain in the midst a government-enforced blackout; a girl with nothing to lose steps into an abandoned house and never comes back out; to protest a viral form of domestic violence, a group of women set themselves on fire.
But alongside the black magic and disturbing disappearances, these stories are fueled by compassion for the frightened and the lost, ultimately bringing these characters—mothers and daughters, husbands and wives—into a surprisingly familiar reality. Written in hypnotic prose that gives grace to the grotesque, Things We Lost in the Fire is a powerful exploration of what happens when our darkest desires are left to roam unchecked, and signals the arrival of an astonishing and necessary voice in contemporary fiction.
Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera
I read this book a while ago so I don’t remember it so well anymore, but I DO remember thinking it was a lovely coming-of-age story about finding your community. It was a very nice read!
Juliet Milagros Palante is leaving the Bronx and headed to Portland, Oregon. She just came out to her family and isn’t sure if her mom will ever speak to her again. But Juliet has a plan, sort of, one that’s going to help her figure out this whole “Puerto Rican lesbian” thing. She’s interning with the author of her favorite book: Harlowe Brisbane, the ultimate authority on feminism, women’s bodies, and other gay-sounding stuff.
Will Juliet be able to figure out her life over the course of one magical summer? Is that even possible? Or is she running away from all the problems that seem too big to handle?
With more questions than answers, Juliet takes on Portland, Harlowe, and most importantly, herself.
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
Only one of two stories are actually Sapphic, but Carmen Maria Machado herself is a Sapphic author, so I am counting this one in. I love horror short stories and this was a very eclectic and strong debut!
In Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. While her work has earned her comparisons to Karen Russell and Kelly Link, she has a voice that is all her own. In this electric and provocative debut, Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women’s lives and the violence visited upon their bodies.
A wife refuses her husband’s entreaties to remove the green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity. A salesclerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the store’s prom dresses. One woman’s surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted houseguest. And in the bravura novella Especially Heinous, Machado reimagines every episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a show we naively assumed had shown it all, generating a phantasmagoric police procedural full of doppelgangers, ghosts, and girls with bells for eyes.
Earthy and otherworldly, antic and sexy, queer and caustic, comic and deadly serious, Her Body and Other Parties swings from horrific violence to the most exquisite sentiment. In their explosive originality, these stories enlarge the possibilities of contemporary fiction.
I LOVE Women in Translation Month, it’s by far the best month of the year to get recommendations for new-to-me, amazing, underhyped books. I had three books on my TBR (The Years by Annie Ernaux, Lemon by Kwon Yeo-Sun and Trap by Lilja Sigurðardóttir) and I managed to pick up all of them, plus another five books. I think eight is a very good amount of books for this year’s WITmonth reading list and I already look forward to next year’s.
I will normally try to read broadly and not stick to one continent (it’s SO easy to just pick up a lot of European lit), as well as not repeat countries but this year I did not plan much what to read and just picked up what I had available and felt like reading – which made this month’s reading so much fun but not as wide as I hoped for! Next year hopefully I will pick up more Caribbean, Latin American and African reads.
I finally went to the library more or less near where I live, and while they have a pitifully small selection of books in English (and none in Portuguese), which I guess is the motivation I need to improve my German and pick up books in German. I feel like thrillers are a good way to start – any recs? I ended up picking up these books from the library:
Clearly I was in a horror/thrilelr mood (still am!). I want to read these immediately.
Last year I couldn’t post recommendations because I realized far too late how close WITmonth was, but this year I have prepared myself! I love translated fiction and often wish I read more of it, except I never know where to start – which is why I think writing posts like this one are very helpful for other readers like me, who are looking for more WIT books to read but don’t really know where to look, or if they would enjoy the book.
I adore Women in Translation Month! It’s a great time to shine a light on Latin American books (hello, in case you are new here, I am from Brazil!) and find new amazing authors. I have a couple posts with recommendations for WIT already, so I won’t do a very extensive recommendations here, but rather a “here’s some cool WIT books I read this year and don’t talk about enough in my blog”, plus a few I will try to pick up this month.
Lonely Castle in the Mirror by Mizuki Tsujimura, translated by Phillip Gabriel
This is a sweet, sad but also heartwarming story about a group of teenagers who are not going to school for different reasons, and one day they all find out that they can go through a mirror and cross onto a fantastical world, where they are given the chance to look for a key and get a wish. This is such a lovely book about bullying, loss, trauma and healing. The language was a bit awkward and I did not love it but it did leave me with a warm heart.
Sooo July I also read just whatever I felt like, and I did have a few days off work so I ended up reading more than I thought I would. For August surely I can’t read this much again, but it’s still nice that in June and July I’ve managed to work on my TBR and get it below 115 books now! In January I was at 160 books, so I think this is good progress.