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Hurricane Season (2016)

by Fernanda Melchor

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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7191831,495 (3.97)23
"The Witch is dead. And the discovery of her corpse-by a group of children playing near the irrigation canals-propels the whole village into an investigation of how and why this murder occurred. Rumors and suspicions spread. As the novel unfolds in a dazzling linguistic torrent, with each unreliable narrator lingering details, new acts of depravity or brutality, Melchor extracts some tiny shred of humanity from these characters that most would write off as utterly irredeemable, forming a lasting portrait of a damned Mexican village. Like Roberto Bolaño's 2666 or Faulkner's greatest novels, Hurricane Season takes place in a world filled with mythology and violence-real violence, the kind that seeps into the soil, poisoning everything around: it's a world that becomes more terrifying and more terrifyingly real the deeper you explore it"--… (more)
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» See also 23 mentions

English (16)  Spanish (2)  All languages (18)
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
Si se pudiera calificar con seis estrellas, le daría 10. En breve reseña en mi blog. ( )
  uvejota | Jul 26, 2023 |
Bleak and horribly fascinating. The story is actually quite good, and I'd like to recommend it, for its grim uncomfortable pointiness. Unfortunately it employs my least favorite literary technique, the neverending text, clause leading to clause, introducing new topics, tangential to the main subject, sentences that rarely end, one long justified paragraph filling page after page, a girl just waiting for any type of punctuation besides a comma, a short space to breathe, to pick up the threads of story again. It's employed to great effect, but it causes me real anxiety. I read the whole book both because it was good and because I bought it. I could not fully enjoy it. I suspect I'll like the story itself in retrospect. ( )
  Kiramke | Jun 27, 2023 |
Straddles a fine line between the blunt prose of Cormac’s Blood Meridian and Hilda Hirst’s poetic ambiguity in her Obscene Madame D; I find it excels Cormac’s attempts at violence but falls short of Hilst’s diffuse excellence. It has a structure consisting of vignettes where one is shoved in front of a polyvalent, almost-barely comprehensible image that is then slowly incorporated into an overall causality. Everything in the book wraps around the smirking, transvestite corpse which is leaking yellow fluid from its head into the river. Yet the work at the same time forces one to contend with and make sense of the silent crack of lightning which emanates from this death, this event which cuts through all of the base materialism which corrupts the Mexican sugar cane crop. There is something enigmatic skirting the boundary, something which is in its own essence purer, that stands in stark contrast to the naturalistic debaucheries the characters themselves carry out. The book comes down to sifting through two heterogenous sources, either one can clear everything up as above-board orgiastic perversities easily reducible to sociological, psychological etc. reasonings, or one can tease out the elusive disparities undergirding the story’s events which point to a malevolent alterity. Good fucking book, way better than I expected it to be (doesn’t feel transgressive/gratuitous just for the sake of it). ( )
  theoaustin | May 19, 2023 |
Holy fuck.

Got to keep your wits about you in this world, she pontificated. You drop your guard for a second and they’ll crush you, Clarita, so you better just tell that fuckwit out there to buy you some clothes. Don’t you be anybody’s fool, that’s what men are like: a bunch of lazy spongers who you have to keep rounding up to squeeze any use out of them…
From 1993 to 2005, there were more than 370 female murders (femicides or feminicidios) in Juárez; in Mexico more broadly, between 1986 and 2009, there were an estimated 34,000 female homicides. And this number is likely much higher: although the far-from-reputable UK Sun estimates the Juárez total to be around 1,500, this number is likely closer to the truth: as The Guardian reported in February 2020: there were “119 homicides in the city [of Juárez] during January this year, and 46 to date in February. Last weekend alone counted 18 murders.”


With frenzy, darkness, and unimpeded rage, Fernanda Melchor’s Hurricane Season dissects Mexico’s culture of—as one narrator puts it—“the full, brutal force of male vice,” after a figure known as “the Witch” is murdered in a small, impoverished village. (Although the novel isn’t set in Juárez, but in her native Veracruz, Melchor speaks to, about, and for all women in Mexico.) Her prose is heady, dizzying, and unrelentingly brutal, depicting how men speak both to and about women, how boys are raised from a young age to feel their superiority over women and “poofs”—in addition to the femicide statistics above, far more than 1,000 documented cases of homophobic violence in Mexico have been recorded—and also how women talk to other women, knowing their bodies are both currency and yet also what make them moving targets in a world where the government and the police care more about money than justice.

Melchor follows the aftermath of the Witch’s murder by fragmenting the narrative, showing us seven unreliable figural narrators who have some part of the backstory to lend to our understanding of what took place. And even that understanding, that “truth,” shifts, morphs, becomes buried beneath misogyny, male privilege, homophobia, and a culture that glorifies violence as evidence of machismo. It’s also a culture that buries truths quite easily beneath superstition and local mythologies: “the black magic rituals and superstitious beliefs which, to the town’s shame, abounded in that place.”

Hurricane Season is a brave, unflinching book, but certainly not an easy one to stomach; all the same, it is essential reading to begin to understand and to give voice to the thousands of women who have been killed by men in Mexico. Melchor’s prose is akin to Bolaño meeting Krasznahorkai in heated conversation with Faulkner, and the darkness here is the darkness of men breeding violence among each other, with women as the casualties.

Melchor’s book is an angry war cry against a culture that praises men for being men; a culture whose victims are forgotten and forever rendered silent; and a culture in which women–who have also internalized this male violence—need to instruct young girls about the violence they will surely encounter in a world one wishes were a nightmare, not the reality that it is. ( )
  proustitute | Apr 2, 2023 |
Brutal and extremely graphic story that builds like the hurricane in the title until the reader is so engulfed that they can't put it down. The story kicks off with the murder of "the Witch", a social outcast, set in a small Mexican town. The book doubles back on itself to slowly reveal what happened to the Witch, but it really is more about violence, poverty, sex, and how those three issues can intertwine.

From a literature standpoint, this book brings it with the relentlessly paced prose and the interesting way it unearths the story.

But I can't think of a single person (ok maybe Susie), where I would thrust this book into their hands and say "read this!". Dark, violent, at times pornographic . . .and yet there are glimpses of humanity, this book is certainly original and unforgettable. ( )
  Anita_Pomerantz | Mar 23, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Fernanda Melchorprimary authorall editionscalculated
Ammar, AngelicaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Belton, CathyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hughes, SophieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Keenan, JamieCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rieselbach, ErikDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
He, too, has resigned his part
In the casual comedy;
He, too, has been changed in his turn,
Transformed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.
--W. B. Yeats, "Easter, 1916"
Some of the events described here are real.
All of the characters are invented.
--Jorge Ibargüengoitia, The Dead Girls
Dedication
First words
They reached the canal along the track leading up from the river, their slingshots drawn for battle and their eyes squinting, almost stitched together, in the midday glare. There were five of them, their ringleader the only one in swimming trunks: red shorts that blazed behind the parched crops of the cane fields, still low in early May.
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"The Witch is dead. And the discovery of her corpse-by a group of children playing near the irrigation canals-propels the whole village into an investigation of how and why this murder occurred. Rumors and suspicions spread. As the novel unfolds in a dazzling linguistic torrent, with each unreliable narrator lingering details, new acts of depravity or brutality, Melchor extracts some tiny shred of humanity from these characters that most would write off as utterly irredeemable, forming a lasting portrait of a damned Mexican village. Like Roberto Bolaño's 2666 or Faulkner's greatest novels, Hurricane Season takes place in a world filled with mythology and violence-real violence, the kind that seeps into the soil, poisoning everything around: it's a world that becomes more terrifying and more terrifyingly real the deeper you explore it"--

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