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.
A Simple Story recounts delirious obsession and mastery, and proves beyond a doubt that journalism has a place in the literary bracket.
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.
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.
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.