Day 12: The Wind That Lays Waste

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.

Having visited Argentina for a few weeks in 2019, I fell head over heels for everything about the country’s culture – including its books! Luckily for me Charco Press has an incredible selection of Argentinian literature in translation, which has led to me reading not one, not even two, but three books from that particular country (oops). Below is one of my favourites – The Wind That Lays Waste by Selva Almada (tr. Chris Andrews).

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In a nutshell: This highly charged, palpable prose is ignited by the sparks thrown off a heady encounter between a preacher, his daughter, a mechanic and his assistant in the wilds of northern Argentina.

To pluck out a line: “But Leni has no lost paradise to revisit. Her childhood was very recent but her memory of it was empty.”

If I had to choose one image: I found the omniscient narrator’s passage about the reverend’s sermons deeply unsettling, with the escalating intrusions of Christ’s tongue, finger, tongue until the climactic disgorging of the slimy black Devil-infused fabric.

Sharing a thought: Through its potency, this story carried me into a world profoundly different to the one I inhabit – immersing me for several hours in belief systems & ways of life so far from my own (a very useful exercise given how much time I spend in a filter bubble).

Fact: According to a 2017 survey, 76% of Argentina’s population is Christian – 66% Roman Catholic, 10% Evangelical Protestant; last year’s failure of the bill to legalise abortion highlighted the enduring power of the church in Argentinian politics.

If you’d like to read The Wind That Lays Waste, please visit here.

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