Mexico: Hurricane Season, Fernanda Melchor, translated from the Spanish by Sophie Hughes
The Witch is dead. And the discovery of her corpse has the whole village investigating the murder. As the novel unfolds in a dazzling linguistic torrent, with each unreliable narrator lingering on new details, new acts of depravity or brutality, Melchor extracts some tiny shred of humanity from these characters – inners whom most people would write off as irredeemable – forming a lasting portrait of a damned Mexican village.
Cuba: I Was Never the First Lady, Wendy Guerra, translated from the Spanish by Achy Obejas
Nadia Guerra’s mother, Albis Torres, left when Nadia was just ten years old. Growing up, the proponents of revolution promised a better future. Now that she’s an adult, Nadia finds that life in Havana hasn’t quite matched its promise; instead, it has stifled her rebellious and artistic desires. Each night she DJs a radio show government censors block from broadcasting. Frustrated, Nadia finds hope and a way out when she wins a scholarship to study in Russia.
Leaving Cuba offers her the chance to find her long-lost mother and her real father. But as she embarks on a journey east, Nadia soon begins to question everything she thought she knew and understood about her past.
As Nadia discovers more about her family, her fate becomes entwined with that of Celia Sanchez, an icon of the Cuban Revolution – a resistance fighter, ingenious spy, and the rumoured lover of Fidel Castro. A tale of revolutionary ideals and promise, Celia’s story interweaves with Nadia’s search for meaning and eventually reveals secrets Nadia could never have dreamed of.
Venezuela: It Would Be Night in Caracas, Karina Sainz Borgo, translated from the Spanish by Elizabeth Bryer
In Caracas, Venezuela, Adelaida Falcón stands over an open grave. Alone, she buries her mother – the only family she has ever known – and worries that when night falls thieves will rob the grave. Even the dead cannot find peace here.
Adelaida had a stable childhood in a prosperous Venezuela that accepted immigrants in search of a better life, where she lived with her single mother in a humble apartment. But now? Every day she lines up for bread that will inevitably be sold out by the time she reaches the registers. Every night she tapes her windows to shut out the tear gas raining down on protesters.
When looters masquerading as revolutionaries take over her apartment, Adelaida must make a series of gruesome choices in order to survive in a country disintegrating into anarchy, where citizens are increasingly pitted against each other. But just how far is she willing to go?
Colombia: Fish Soup, Margarita García Robayo, translated from the Spanish by Charlotte Coombe
Fish Soup is a collection comprising two novellas plus the book of short stories Worse Things.
Set on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, Waiting for a Hurricane follows a girl obsessed with escaping both her life and her country. Emotionally detached from her family, and disillusioned with what the future holds if she remains, she takes ever more drastic steps in order to achieve her goal, seemingly oblivious to the damage she is causing both to herself and to those around her.
The tales of Worse Things provide snapshots of lives in turmoil, frayed relationships, dreams of escape, family taboos, and rejection both of and by society. Sexual Education examines the attempts of a student to tally the strict doctrine of abstinence taught at her school with the very different moral norms that prevail in her social circles.
Brazil: The Apple in the Dark, Clarice Lispector, translated from the Portuguese by Paulo Gurgel Valente
Martim, fleeing from a murder he believes he committed, plunges into the dark nocturnal jungle: stumbling along, in a state of both fear and wonder, eventually, he comes to a remote, quiet ranch and finds work with the two women who own it. The women are tranquil enough before his arrival but are affected by his radical mystery. A book in three chapters, with three central characters, The Apple in the Dark is one of Lispector’s best works.
Peru: Little Bird, Claudia Ulloa Donoso, translated from the Spanish by Lily Meyer
A stranger keeps coming into the narrator’s apartment and staring at her plant. A woman rescues a bird her cat attacked but accidentally carries it into her job interview. A woman ends up accidentally married due to a misunderstanding. Donoso stories carry with them the haze and fatigue of every day life.
Uruguay: The Naked Woman, Armonía Somers, translated from the Spanish by Kit Maude
A groundbreaking feminist classic from 1950s Uruguay, The Naked Woman was met with scandal and outrage due to its erotic content, cynicism, and stylistic ingenuity. The novel follows Rebeca Linke’s ardent, ultimately tragic, attempt to free herself from a hostile society. Juxtaposing fantastic imagery and brutal depictions of violence, it is one of the most original works of Latin American fiction.
Chile: Seeing Red, Lina Meruane, translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell
Lucina, a young Chilean writer, has moved to New York to pursue an academic career. While at a party one night, something that her doctors had long warned might happen finally occurs her eyes haemorrhage. Within minutes, blood floods her vision, reducing her sight to sketched outlines and tones of grey, rendering her all but blind. As she begins to adjust to a very different life, those who love her begin to adjust to a very different woman – one who is angry, raw, funny, sinister, sexual, and dizzyingly alive.
Argentina: Nineteen Claws and a Black Bird, Agustina Bazterrica, translated from the Spanish by Sarah Moses
Through stories about violence, alienation, and dystopia, Bazterrica’s vision of the human experience emerges in complex, unexpected ways – often unsettling, sometimes thrilling, and always profound. In “Roberto,” a girl claims to have a rabbit between her legs. A woman’s neighbour jumps to his death in “A Light, Swift, and Monstrous Sound,” and in “Candy Pink,” a woman fails to contend with a difficult breakup in five easy steps.
Ecuador: Jawbone, Mónica Ojeda, translated from the Spanish by Sarah Booker
Fernanda and Annelise are so close they are practically sisters: a double image, inseparable. So how does Fernanda end up bound on the floor of a deserted cabin, held hostage by one of her teachers and estranged from Annelise?
When Fernanda, Annelise, and their friends from the Delta Bilingual Academy convene after school, Annelise leads them in thrilling but increasingly dangerous rituals to a rhinestoned, Dior-scented, drag-queen god of her own invention. Even more perilous is the secret Annelise and Fernanda share, rooted in a dare in which violence meets love. Meanwhile, their literature teacher Miss Clara, who is obsessed with imitating her dead mother, struggles to preserve her deteriorating sanity. Each day she edges nearer to a total break from reality.