Day 22: Southpaw

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.

For my book from Venezuela I chose Southpaw by Lisa St Aubin de Terán – a short story collection that spans to Italy, where the author also lived. This is a gritty, interesting read.

a nutshell: written over 25 years, these dogged short stories of dispossessed individuals are set first on or around the Hacienda Santa Rita (a sugar plantation in the Venezuelan Andes) then in Umbria, Italy – two places where the author chanced to live

a line: “Life took longer to live in the wet weather”

an image: SPOILER | for me, ‘Eladio and the Boy’ was an especially moving story – I found myself genuinely upset by the scene of inexplicable loss when Eladio’s quiet friendship with a pair of eagles is shattered by human intrusion & violence

a thought: I looked up the definition of southpaw: (1) a boxer whose strongest hand is the left (2) a person who uses their left hand to do most things – which I assume alludes to the stories’ contexts of South America and southern Italy, as well as the narratives of eccentricity (since left-handedness was historically perceived as such) and the characters’ ability both to receive and to administer blows

a fact: in the intro, the writer openly labels herself an “alien observer” in these communities; in the absence of anywhere specific to call home, she says she found an “emotional home in other people’s roots”

want to read Southpaw? visit here

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