In this brutal, gripping novel, Selva Almada narrates the case of three small-town teenage girls murdered in the 1980’s in the interior of Argentina.
Three deaths without culprits: 19-year old Andrea Danne, stabbed in her own bed; 15-year old María Luisa Quevedo, raped, strangled, and dumped in wasteland; and 20-year old Sarita Mundín, whose disfigured body was found on a river bank. Almada takes these and other tales of abused women to weave together a dry, straightforward portrait of gender violence that surpasses national borders and speaks to readers’ consciousness all over the world.
Following the success of The Wind That Lays Waste, internationally acclaimed Argentinian author Selva Almada dives into the heart of this problem with a reported novel, comparable to Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood or John Hersey’s Hiroshima, in response to the urgent need for attention to the ongoing catastrophe that is femicide.
Not a police chronicle, not a thriller, but a contemporary noir novel that lives in the hearts of these women and the men who have abused them. Almada captures the invisible, and with lyrical brutality, blazes a new trail in journalistic fiction.
I am a fool for translated fiction, I don’t think translated novels always get the love that they deserve but I am always here for translated love especially now, during Women in Translation month. I was lucky enough to have received a review copy of Dead Girls by Selva Almada, translated from Spanish by Annie McDermott, from independent press Charco Press. This eerie example of journalistic fiction is due to be published on the 3rd of September, you can pre-order yourself a copy here.
Dead Girls is quite the difficult novel to review because of its harrowing nature that reflects that of non-fictional women born into Argentina. The setting of this translated fiction is provincial Argentina after its return to democracy, where violence is interwoven into the community, the kind that creates a shockwave yet is still ignored in the journey of justice. The violence sewn in to this novel revolves that inflicted upon women, a depraved act that roots from sexual possession and anger of the men in the area. In her authors note, Selva speaks about how female centred violence and femicide has become normalised within these areas, women picked up brutally murdered and discarded like rubbish at the side of the road etc. I was appalled yet sinisterly sobered that although Dead Girls is an example of journalist fiction with a In Cold Blood type format, the heart of the novel is non-fictional which adds to the harrowing layer of the story – these women actually lived this life, in a place where being raped by your husband is accepted because you’re married, right? An anger inducing read that gives the female victims of violence a voice, as Selva shines a light on the needed justice for these women.
So, if you’re looking to support a woman in translation this month, pre-order this hard-hitting read, not for the weak hearted and you will need to put it down to collect yourself but it is a necessary read. Not only can you buy a copy and support a female writer and translator, but you can also support an independent publisher! Thanks again Charco Press for the opportunity to review, i’m still reeling from this one!
until next time,