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Book Review - Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez

Book Review - Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez

I’m sorry that this is a day late! Yesterday got away from me for reasons I can’t discuss right now, but anyway, here I am!

Things We Lost in the Fire was a fascinating collection of short stories in translation by Argentinean author. They mixed horror and disgust with magical realism and the culture of Argentina in a way that was unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Since the short stories are all different, I’m not going to get into the plot or anything—they sort of fit together, but it wasn’t a narrative at the end or anything. My favorite was Things We Lost in the Fire, which was the final story in the collection. I’m glad I read it—it was different, and I’m trying to push myself to read more widely this year, as you know.


3 Things I Loved

1.       Argentina. I have never read anything from an Argentinian author before, and that was super fun. I definitely need to add more works in translation to my shelves, and I’ll be seeking out more South American writers for sure. I don’t know why I’ve waited so long on this one!

2.       Magical Realism. Oh my. I had no idea how much I loved magical realism until I read these short stories. Because here’s the thing about magical realism—it’s something that was developed by Latinx cultures and writers. So why have I not read more of it? Well. Good question. I guess I was a little too rooted in the contemporary (silly me), but that’s definitely starting to change.

3.       Horror. Okay. I don’t usually do horror. At all. I hate it and it keeps me up at night. So I therefore could only read this book during the day (seriously, otherwise it freaked me out). But it was fascinating and fun (as long as it was daytime). I’m a weirdo, haha. I’m not ruling out reading more horror, but summertime would be better for it—the days are longer. (Laughing for days at my own ridiculousness.)


Anything Problematic?

Oh hell yes. In the first story, the word “transvestite” was used repeatedly, to the point where I was so uncomfortable that I almost DNFed the book. I understand that this is a work in translation, which is why I pushed through, but it was so bothersome and insensitive. I can’t guarantee that this was a translation issue, since I haven’t seen the original Spanish text of the book, but I would wager a guess that the author wasn’t intending to do harm by using such an outdated and insensitive word.

**Yes, this problem is out of my lane, so maybe I’m interpreting everything incorrectly. But it still really bothered me that the word was used.**


Rating

A reminder of the rating system:

  • Red = DNF, I hated everything
  • Orange = Ugh, no thank you
  • Yellow = I mean, I’ve read worse, but there were problems
  • Green = This was good, but not something I’d reread
  • Blue = Oh my gosh, everyone should be reading this book
  • Purple = This is the unicorn of books and I will be rereading it until the binding falls apart

Now, Things We Lost in the Fire wasn’t my favorite book of the year by any means, but it was well-written and different from everything else I’ve read and I enjoyed that aspect of it a lot. I have it hovering between Yellow and Green on my rating scale. It’s not something I’d reread, but I might recommend it to someone looking specifically for some horror and magical realism in South America.


This advanced reader copy was provided by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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