Fernanda Melchor explores the human capacity for violence and grace

“Paradais” may not be intended as a public statement about Mexican society, but a more incisive commentary on its often haunting facts of...


“Paradais” may not be intended as a public statement about Mexican society, but a more incisive commentary on its often haunting facts of life would be hard to come by. The men in Melchor’s novels view women as tricksters and deceivers, in possession of potions and powers that cause them to lose control and go to extremes. Polo’s grandfather warns him that it is “bad for a man’s health – pernicious as he would say – to sleep so close to a woman”, and Polo himself despises Franco for not having ” the balls to approach any member of the opposite sex and do whatever it took to tame her, control her, spread her legs wide open.

Melchor’s lucid portrayals of “the brute force of male vice,” as she writes in “Hurricane Season,” are particularly poignant in today’s Mexico. Femicide and the disappearance of young women make the morning news almost daily, even as a large and energetic women’s protest movement forces a haphazard and uneven mainstreaming of gender-based violence.

“When I wrote ‘Hurricane Season,’ I was very interested in making sense of the horrific violence that we experience in Mexico,” she said, “and also the violence that I experienced as a woman and as a woman from Veracruz.

But while Melchor doesn’t shy away from the larger conversation about the inherent risks of being a woman in her country of birth, she also finds it intriguing that readers assume she’s inspired by that reality and never, for example, by American writers. like Denis Johnson, Cormac McCarthy or Lee Stringer.

“Poverty, homelessness and drug addiction are not country specific,” she said.

Whatever its inspiration, Melchor’s rendering of male fantasy and violence is so comprehensive, and often so gruesome, that readers can sometimes recoil from the page. That said, Melchor’s sensitivity to the humanity that lingers even in her nastiest characters — what she calls “a desperate and sweeping exercise in empathy” — suggests they’re still worth understanding.

“What appeals to me as a reader is how close she gets to her characters, how she understands the cadences of their speech, their realities,” said Eric Becker, editor of Words Without Borders. , an online magazine of international literature that will publish a story of “Aquí no es Miami”, translated by Hughes, in June. “There’s a lot of talk about empathy in literature, but Melchor has to be the mistress in the sense that she seems to see through her characters.”

As for the sequel, Melchor is superstitious to give too much away. “Hurricane Season” is set to be made into a movie, produced by Netflix and directed by Elisa Miller, and two potential book ideas are in the works.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Fernanda Melchor explores the human capacity for violence and grace
Fernanda Melchor explores the human capacity for violence and grace
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