Day 4: Fish Soup

Across the first month of 2020, Sophie Baggott is sharing her thirty favourite books by women from across the world. Find out more about her project to read women writers from every country worldwide here.

Shortly after reading Fish Soup by Margarita García Robayo (tr. Charlotte Coombe) – a sharp, entertaining story collection – I had the thrill of meeting the author at the Free Word Centre. Robayo is as insightful (yet self-deprecating!) in person as her writing suggests. Fish Soup probes corners of society that remain largely impenetrable. It’s unapologetic, astute – as well as humorous and devastating in turn.

Reading Fish Soup
Reading Fish Soup in a sunny London park

In a nutshell: Visceral novellas/stories of longing, repulsion, tumult, Robayo beckons her readers into moments that distill what it is to be human & unsettled; even the prose discomfits, simultaneously stark and evocative.

To pluck out a line: “He zealously fed his American dream in fear that if he forgot to feed it one day, it would keel over in front of him like a starving baby bird”.

If I had to choose one image: A disabled obese boy lies back watching clouds – surrounded by his dad, uncle and carer – inwardly wishing he’d be swept away.

Sharing a thought: The author never tells you what to think, but the potency of a passage in which a young girl is gang-raped then expelled by her Catholic school due to her parents administering a morning-after pill speaks silent volumes about the lot of women in society.

Fact: This collection includes Robayo’s previously unpublished story, Sexual Education – a semi-autobiographical glimpse of a student’s disorientation between her school’s obsessive doctrine of abstinence and societal norms beyond the classroom.

If you want to read Fish Soup, visit here.

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