Fernanda Melchor: credit: Maja Lindströem

Fernanda Melchor

Born in Veracruz, Mexico, in 1982, Fernanda Melchor is “one of Mexico’s most exciting new voices” (The Guardian). Her novel Hurricane Season was shortlisted for the International Booker Prize, longlisted for the National Book Award, and was a New York Times Notable Book.

This Is Not Miami

Literature by Fernanda Melchor

Translated from the Spanish by Sophie Hughes

Set in and around the Mexican city of Veracruz, This Is Not Miami delivers a series of devastating stories—spiraling from real events—that bleed together reportage and the author’s rich and rigorous imagination. These narrative nonfiction pieces probe deeply into the motivations of murderers and misfits, into their desires and circumstances, forcing us to understand them—and even empathize—despite our wish to simply label them monsters. As in her hugely acclaimed novels Hurricane Season and Paradais, Fernanda Melchor’s masterful stories show how the violent and shocking aberrations that make the headlines are only the surface ruptures of a society on the brink of chaos.…
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Paradais

Fiction by Fernanda Melchor

Translated from the Spanish by Sophie Hughes

Inside a luxury housing complex, two misfit teenagers sneak around and get drunk. Franco, lonely, overweight, and addicted to porn, obsessively fantasizes about seducing his neighbor—an attractive married woman and mother—while Polo dreams about quitting his awful job as the gated community’s gardener and fleeing his overbearing mother and their narco-controlled village. Faced with the impossibility of getting what they think they deserves, Franco and Polo hatch a mindless and macabre scheme.…
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Hurricane Season

Fiction by Fernanda Melchor

Translated by Sophie Hughes

The Witch is dead. And the discovery of her corpse—by a group of children playing near the irrigation canals—propels the whole village into an investigation of how and why this murder occurred. Rumors and suspicions spread. As the novel unfolds in a dazzling linguistic torrent, with each unreliable narrator lingering details, new acts of depravity or brutality, Melchor extracts some tiny shred of humanity from these characters that most would write off as utterly irredeemable, forming a lasting portrait of a damned Mexican village.…
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Battles in the Desert

Fiction by José Emilio Pacheco

Translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver

With a contribution by Fernanda Melchor

This landmark novella—one of the central texts of Mexican literature, is eerily relevant to our current dark times—offers a child’s-eye view of a society beset by dictators, disease, and natural disasters, set in “the year of polio, foot-and- mouth disease, floods.” A middle-class boy grows up in a world of children aping adults (mock wars at recess pit Arabs against Jews), where a child’s left to ponder “how many evils and catastrophes we have yet to witness.…
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While her writing turns an unsparing eye on the dysfunction and violence of her native Veracruz, Melchor makes clear that it is neither her job nor her intention to explain her homeland. Her novels are less portraits of Mexico than they are literary MRIs, probing unseen corners of the human heart and finding that many of its darker shades are universal.
—Benjamin P. Russell, The New York Times
Hurricane Season is a Gulf Coast noir from four characters’ perspectives, each circling a murder more closely than the last. Melchor has an exceptional gift for ventriloquism, as does her translator, Sophie Hughes, who skillfully meets the challenge posed by a novel so rich in idiosyncratic voices. Melchor evokes the stories of Flannery O’Connor, or, more recently, Marlon James’s A Brief History of Seven Killings. Impressive
—Julian Lucas, The New York Times
Paradais is beautiful and terrible.
—Marcus McGee, LARB
Fernanda Melchor has a powerful voice, and by powerful I mean unsparing, devastating, the voice of someone who writes with rage and has the skill to pull it off.
—Samanta Schweblin
Melchor evokes the stories of Flannery O’Connor, or, more recently, Marlon James’s A Brief History of Seven Killings. Impressive.
—Julian Lucas, The New York Times
Melchor makes evident how violence and misogyny touch all corners of society, even the communities thought to be protected by physical gates, security guards, and money. Of course, it happens even in Paradise.
Harvard Review
Melchor offers a study of the pathologies of both the bourgeoisie and the proletariat—and does so in prose laced with both high diction and the vernacular.
—Nicolas Medina Mora, The Nation
Paradais stars a luxury housing complex’s beleaguered gardener, who’s driven by one of its residents to follow his worst impulses. Melchor’s prose is singular, with its fair share of page-long sentences that travel from the deepest psychic corners of her characters to the broadest panoramas of Mexican life.
—Leland Cheuk, NPR
Set in the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz….Melchor’s latest novel, Paradais, is more tightly focused—employing not a chorus of narrators but a duet.
—Lucas Iberico Lozada The Nation
[Melchor’s] honest and fearless resolve to capture the rawness of contemporary Mexican society is nothing but inspiring.
Frieze
Paradais is as engrossing as it is discomfiting. Sophie Hughes’ translation gives Melchor’s candid, lurid run-on sentences a galloping pace; nothing is softened or made more graceful, but the prose is insistent and propulsive while the story accrues guns and rapes and murder.
—Mark Athitakis, On the Seawall
Without moralizing, the Mexican writer Fernanda Melchor’s novels look unflinchingly at cruelty and poverty. Her work is a model for how to think about the ambiguity of human relations.
Jacobin Magazine
With a nimble command of the novel’s technical resources and an uncanny grasp of the irrational forces at work in society, the books navigate a reality riven by violence, race, class, and sex…In Melchor’s world, there’s no resisting the violence, much less hating it. All a novelist can do, she seems to suggest, is take a long, unsparing look at the hell that we’ve made.
—Juan Gabriel Vásquez, The New Yorker
Melchor is an incredibly gifted writer.
—Justin Torres, The New York Times
Through the alchemy of translation, Sophie Hughes has reinterpreted the local slang of Melchor’s Mexican Spanish. The result is a linguistic marvel: a hybrid English that jumps between British and American dialects; a bastard tongue situated somewhere between LA pulp and something out of James Kelman. It’s a risky choice with an immense payoff.
Cleveland Review of Books
Hurricane Season is, first and foremost, a horror story—its horror coming from rather than contrasting with the lyricism of Melchor’s prose. Instead of supplying a welcome breeze in the heat, the local river is where the children find the Witch’s body. Sophie Hughes’s translation renders the expansive, punishing spirit of Mexican slang impressively.
—Emmanuel Ordóñez Angulo, The New York Review of Books
Stomach-churning, molar-grinding, nightmare-inducing, and extraordinarily clear-eyed account of the ordinary horrors men inflict upon women. Melchor refuses to look away, refuses to indulge in fantasy or levity—even in the moments when the novel is laugh-out-loud funny. And lest the far-off reader think the horror is contained to the lives of others, Melchor repeatedly threads the reminders of the long reach of these crimes—and their causes—throughout the narrative.
—Lucas Iberico Lozada, The Nation
Hurricane Season remains a powerful experience for the way its cruelty becomes, improbably, and before our eyes, a form of radically intransigent egalitarianism.
Sydney Review of Books
This is the Mexico of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian or Roberto Bolaño’s 2666, where the extremes of evil create a pummeling, hyper-realistic effect. But the ‘elemental cry; of Ms. Melchor’s writing voice, a composite of anger and anguish, is entirely her own.
—Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal
One of Mexico’s most promising and prominent writers—Melchor writes of lives with specificity, with a crude recognition of their humanity that allows, if not for redemption or hope for those lives, at least some measure of peace for their dead. Virtuosic prose.
—Ana Cecilia Alvarez, Bookforum
Fernanda Melchor’s Hurricane Season is so strange, wild, and foul-mouthed that I almost missed the sharp critiques embedded in the story. A mix of drugs, sex, mythology, small-town desperation, poverty, and superstition, this novel spreads like a fungus from the dark center of the literary space where crime fiction and horror meet. Melchor is the witch and this novel is a powerful spell.
NPR
Hurricane Season condemns violence — especially sexual violence — by depicting it unflinchingly, in scenes and language that make Truman Capote and Cormac McCarthy seem tame. This is a novel that sinks like lead to the bottom of the soul and remains there, its images full of color, its characters alive and raging against their fate.
Los Angeles Review of Books
A brutal portrait of small-town claustrophobia, in which machismo is a prison and corruption isn’t just institutional but domestic, with families broken by incest and violence. Melchor’s long, snaking sentences make the book almost literally unputdownable, shifting our grasp of key events by continually creeping up on them from new angles. A formidable debut.
—Anthony Cummins, The Guardian
Hurricane Season is an intense and hypnotic literary experience, where physical violence and the hostility of the landscape form a microcosm of helplessness. Fernanda Melchor’s narrative maturity is powerful: a book that leaves you shaken.
—Mariana Enríquez
A dazzling novel and the English-language debut of one of Mexico’s most exciting new voices.
The Guardian
Fernanda Melchor is part of a wave of real writing, a multi-tongue, variform, generationless, decadeless, ageless wave, that American contemporary literature must ignore if it is to hold on to its infantile worldview.
—Jesse Ball
Hurricane Season is a hell of a force to be reckoned with.
—Claire-Louise Bennett, author of Pond
A bravura performance, teeming with life and fury. Melchor takes a single, brutal act and explodes it, giving voice to the legacies of tragedy and violence within, and daring us to look away.
—Sam Byers, author of Perfidious Albion
Hurricane Season is an unrelenting torrent of violence, barbarity, recrimination, sex, greed, trauma, corruption, neglect, fear, lust, deceit, baseness, and the insidiousness of evil. The young Mexican author writes with unflinching ferocity and her propulsive prose is simultaneously scintillating and suffocating. Hurricane Season’s brings to mind other darkly delirious works of (semi)fiction like Rafael Chirbes’s On the Edge, Bolaño’s 2666, or even the novels of Santiago Gamboa. Inspired by a story Melchor encountered in a local newspaper, Hurricane Season offers a testimonial of our increasingly depraved age of disconnection and disposability. A remarkable, indelible work of art.
—Jeremy Garber, Powell’s Books
Written with pain and enormous skill, in a rhythm at once tearing and hypnotic, Hurricane Season is an account of the wreckage of a forsaken Mexico governed by nightmarish jungle law. An important, brave novel by a writer of extraordinary talent, magnificently translated by Sophie Hughes.
—Alia Trabucco Zerán
Propelled by a violent lyricism and stunning immediacy, Hurricane Season maps out a landscape in which social corrosion acquires a mythical shape. This masterful portrayal of contemporary Mexico, so vertiginous and bewitching it pulls you into its spiritual abyss from the opening page, is brilliantly rendered into English by Sophie Hughes. Fernanda Melchor is a remarkable talent.
—Chloe Aridjis
Brutal, relentless, beautiful, fugal, Hurricane Season explores the violent mythologies of one Mexican village and reveals how they touch the global circuitry of capitalist greed. This is an inquiry into the sexual terrorism and terror of broken men. This is a work of both mystery and critique. Most recent fiction seems anemic by comparison.
—Ben Lerner, author of The Topeka School
Melchor’s English-language debut is a furious vortex of voices that swirl around a murder in a provincial Mexican town. Forceful, frenzied, violent, and uncompromising, Melchor’s depiction of a town ogling its own destruction is a powder keg that ignites on the first page and sustains its intense, explosive heat until its final sentence.
Publishers Weekly
Fernanda Melchor has a powerful voice, and by powerful I mean unsparing, devastating, the voice of someone who writes with rage, and has the skill to pull it off.
—Samanta Schweblin
Melchor wields a sentence like a saber. She never flinches in the bold, precise strokes of Hurricane Season. In prose as precise and breathtaking as it is unsettling, Melchor has crafted an unprecedented novel about femicide in Mexico and how poverty and extreme power imbalances lead to violence everywhere.
—Idra Novey, Author of Those Who Knew
Fernanda Melchor not only writes with the furious power that is required by the issues at hand, but on each page she shows that she has an eye and ear for it, as well as a sharpness rarely seen in our literature.
—Yuri Herrera
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