A Simple Story

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.…
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Fascination and this quest to understand, which propels Guerriero’s journey, is one readers will immediately become immersed in.

—Diane Goodman, American Book Review

Hats off to Guerriero…

The Paris Review

Guerriero transforms Rodolfo’s quest into a fable, reminiscent of the work of her countrymen Jorge Luis Borges and Julio Cortázar….A timeless tale rendered in spare, evocative prose.

Kirkus

An epic of noble proportions—Guerriero is a mistress of the telling phrase or the revealing detail.

—Sarah Crompton, The Spectator

A Simple Story is about an expression of a culture that, unlike tango, has been passed over, neglected or forgotten by all but a few devotees, for whom it is an obsession. Its obscurity, this books suggests, is its salvation.

The Economist

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
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