25 Jul / The Wind That Lays Waste by Selva Almada, translated by Chris Andrews [in Shelf Awareness]
A broken-down car on a rural Argentinian road brings together two unlikely father-and-teen pairs. Reverend Pearson should have listened to daughter Leni’s warnings about their overused jalopy, but its failure lands them in the garage of El Gringo Brauer and his assistant, Tapioca. Pearson considers the unplanned stopover yet another opportunity to preach, but after an initial offer of cold drinks, Brauer quickly withdraws to resurrect Pearson’s stalled car. While Leni watches warily, Tapioca just might be willing to listen.
The hot, dusty afternoon progresses, until the brewing storm finally arrives. The foursome are forced inside in close quarters, to share a meal, conversation, something of their very selves. They temporarily re-pair: the teens to play games, the men drinking and talking. But Pearson won’t relinquish a potentially savable soul, and somehow he’s asking to take Tapioca away from Brauer. Tempers flare, desperation sparks violence, and the children become pawns in a showdown for control.
Originally published in 2012, garnering international attention and translated into multiple languages, Selva Almada’s first novel, El viento que arrasa, arrives in the U.S. as The Wind That Lays Waste, smoothly translated by Australian Chris Andrews, who was the first to render Roberto Bolaño’s work into English. As Almada tautly reveals the events of a single day during which four disparate lives briefly intersect, she deftly interweaves the pivotal details about each of the quartet (Leni’s missing mother, Tapioca’s abandonment, Brauer’s failures, Pearson’s self-delusions) that contribute to the final implosion. English-reading audiences can expect a dynamic introduction to a major Latin American literary force.
Discover: Lauded Argentinian author Selva Almada makes her U.S. debut with a slim novel about two fathers, their two teens, and the single, strained day they’re forced to spend together.
Published: 2012 (Argentina), 2019 (United States)