Catapult. Aug. 2022. 240p. tr. from Spanish by Heather Cleary. ISBN 9781646220687. $26. F
A Hay Festival and Bogotá 39 honoree, Mexican author Lozano (Loop) tells the story of Indigenous Mexican healer Feliciana and Zoe, a journalist interviewing Feliciana about the murder of her cousin Paloma. They come from wildly different cultures—Feliciana belongs to an agrarian society with strictly defined gender roles, while Zoe enjoys a contemporary urban lifestyle in Mexico City—their lives hold parallels; they are both quiet rebels, while Paloma and Zoe’s rebellious sister Leandra stand out as vivid characters who defy societal strictures more boldly. There is little traditional plot but instead two overlapping narratives that merge and converge in unexpected ways. Zoe’s straightforward narrative contrasts with Feliciana’s, which features long, elliptical sentences and many repeated phrases, and the significance of some events mentioned frequently in passing only become clear toward the end. Paloma is a Muxe, a self-identifying third gender among the Zapotec people of Oaxaca, and it’s worth reading Cleary’s translator’s note to see why she retained some cultural words without translating, and how she dealt with gender when using terms that traditionally only refer to males or females but here are used to describe characters across the gender spectrum.
VERDICT Beautifully rendered, this is a book to meditate over and perhaps reread.
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