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A Simple Story The Last Malambo

by Leila Guerriero

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Guerriero irrefutably proves that journalism can be one of the beaux arts. Below the light and agile surface that grabs your attention from the first lines, she shows a sureness and a seriousness that confer on her work a powerful consistency.

—Mario Vargas Llosa

Obsession and mastery in their purest states: the story of one dancer's attempt to win the biggest contest of his life


A Simple Story The Last Malambo

Nonfiction by Leila Guerriero

translated from the Spanish by Frances Riddle

Every year, at the height of summer, the remote Argentine village of Laborde holds the national malambo contest. Centuries old, this shatteringly demanding traditional gaucho dance is governed by the most rigid rules. And this festival has one stipulation that makes it unique: the malambo is danced for up to five minutes. That may seem like nothing, but consider the world record for the hundred-meter dash is 9.58 seconds. The dance contest is an obsession for countless young men, who sacrifice their bodies and money as they strive to become the champion, knowing that if they win—in order to safeguard the title’s prestige—they can never compete again. When Leila Guerriero traveled to Laborde, one dancer’s performance took her breath away, and she spent a year following him as he prepared for the next festival. The result is this superlative piece of journalism, told with tremendous economy and power.

published February 7th, 2017
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