The Monthly Booking: July 2022

After a rather extended break, The Monthly Booking is back – and diving straight into summer with a Latin American-themed reading list.

As usual, I’ve picked four titles from my digital and physical bookshelves, covering fiction, non-fiction, translation and independent publishers. Happily, having given myself a geographical theme for this month, July’s list is very translation-focused – a good reflection of my reading habits in general. Three of my four books are translated fiction (two of them, quite by chance, brought to us in English by Rosalind Harvey), while my non-fiction pick is a hefty older tome in a genre I don’t often write about: biography.

As I’ve missed a lot of reviews recently, I will also be using the summer to catch up on some brilliant new(ish) titles – keep an eye out for write-ups of books from the likes of Charco Press, V&Q Books and Fum d’Estampa.

For July 2022, my reading list is as follows:

Fiction

Witches by Brenda Lozano, translated from the Spanish by Heather Cleary (Maclehose Press)

What the publisher says: ‘Weaving together two parallel narratives, Witches tells the story of Feliciana, an indigenous curandera or healer, and Zoe, a journalist: two women who meet through the murder of Feliciana’s cousin Paloma. In the tiny village of San Felipe in Jalisco province, where traditional ways and traditional beliefs are a present reality, Feliciana tells the story of her life, her community’s acceptance of her as a genuine curandera and the difficult choices faced by her joyful and spirited cousin Paloma who is both a healer and a Muxe – a trans woman. Growing up in Mexico City, Zoe attempts to find her way in a society straitjacketed by its hostile macho culture. But it is Feliciana’s and Paloma’s stories that draw her own story out of her, taking her on a journey to understanding her place in the world and the power of her voice. This captivating novel of two Mexicos envisions the writer as a healer and offers a generous and distinctly female way of understanding the complex world we all inhabit.’

Non-fiction

Gabriel García Márquez: A Life by Gerald Martin

What the publisher says: ‘Gabriel García Márquez, author of the modern classic One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera, is one of the greatest and most popular writers of the late-twentieth century. As Gerald Martin tells the story of the author’s fascinating rise to wealth and international fame, he reveals the tensions in García Márquez’s life between celebrity and literary quality, between politics and writing, and between power, solitude and love. Interviewing more than three hundred people including Fidel Castro, Felipe González, Carlos Fuentes and Mario Vargas Llosa, the author’s large family as well as “Gabo” himself, Martin immerses himself in García Márquez’s world. This at first “tolerated” and now “official” biography is as gripping and revealing as the writer’s journalism and as complex and involving as any of his fiction.’

Translation

Still Born by Guadalupe Nettel, translated from the Spanish by Rosalind Harvey (Fitzcarraldo Editions)

What the publisher says: ‘Still Born, Guadalupe Nettel’s fourth novel, treats one of the most consequential decisions of early adulthood – whether or not to have children – with the intelligence and originality that have won her international acclaim. Alina and Laura are independent and career-driven women in their mid-thirties, neither of whom have built their future around the prospect of a family. Laura has taken the drastic decision to be sterilized, but as time goes by Alina becomes drawn to the idea of becoming a mother. When complications arise in Alina’s pregnancy and Laura becomes attached to her neighbour’s son, both women are forced to reckon with the complexity of their emotions. In prose that is as gripping as it is insightful, Guadalupe Nettel explores maternal ambivalence with a surgeon’s touch, carefully dissecting the contradictions that make up the lived experiences of women.’

Independent Publisher

Here Be Icebergs by Katya Adaui, translated from the Spanish by Rosalind Harvey (Charco Press)

What the publisher says: ‘The mysteries of kinship (families born into and families made) take disconcerting and familiar shapes in these refreshingly frank short stories. A family is haunted by a beast that splatters fruit against its walls every night, another undergoes a near-collision with a bus on the way home from the beach. Mothers are detached, fathers are absent – we know these moments in the abstract, but Katya Adaui makes each as uncanny as our own lives: close but not yet understood.’


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