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Eartheater: A Novel by Dolores Reyes
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Eartheater: A Novel (edition 2021)

by Dolores Reyes (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2017137,812 (3.55)3
NAMED A "FALL 2020 MUST-READ" AND ONE OF THE "BEST BOOKS OF FALL 2020" BY TIME, VULTURE, THE BOSTON GLOBE, COSMOPOLITAN, WIRED, TOR AND MORE Electrifying and provocative, visceral and profound, a powerful literary debut novel about a young woman whose compulsion to eat earth gives her visions of murdered and missing people-an imaginative synthesis of mystery and magical realism that explores the dark tragedies of ordinary lives. Set in an unnamed slum in contemporary Argentina, Eartheater is the story of a young woman who finds herself drawn to eating the earth-a compulsion that gives her visions of broken and lost lives. With her first taste of dirt, she learns the horrifying truth of her mother's death. Disturbed by what she witnesses, the woman keeps her visions to herself. But when Eartheater begins an unlikely relationship with a withdrawn police officer, word of her ability begins to spread, and soon desperate members of her community beg for her help, anxious to uncover the truth about their own loved ones. Surreal and haunting, spare yet complex, Eartheater is a dark, emotionally resonant tale told from a feminist perspective that brilliantly explores the stories of those left behind-the women enduring the pain of uncertainty, whose lives have been shaped by violence and loss. Translated from the Spanish by Julia Sanches.… (more)
Member:seirrgang
Title:Eartheater: A Novel
Authors:Dolores Reyes (Author)
Info:HarperVia (2021), 224 pages
Collections:Your library
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Eartheater: A Novel by Dolores Reyes

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» See also 3 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
I love everything from Argentina? Haunting and terse and a great example of actual original magical realism. ( )
  Kiramke | Feb 3, 2024 |
August was Women In Translation (WIT) month and this year marks the tenth year of the project designed to encourage more readers to pick up books written and translated by women. I don't always participate, but I was in the mood to pick up Eartheater by Dolores Reyes so this fit nicely into my reading schedule.

Eartheater is a Latin American novel set in a slum in modern-day Argentina. Our protagonist has a compulsion to eat earth, but when she does she often sees disturbing visions of people who are missing or have been murdered. Troubled by her gift and the violence against women she witnesses, she prefers to remain withdrawn, playing computer games and drinking beer. Meanwhile, news of her gift spreads and family members - desperately seeking answers about their loved ones - start leaving bottles of earth at her gate, in the hope she can help them.

"I knelt down ... and put the bottle next to the others for company. There were plenty of blue ones. No blue was the same and no earth tasted alike. No child, sibling, mother, or friend was missed like another. Side by side, they were like glimmering tombs. At first, I used to count them and arrange them tenderly, sometimes stroking one until it let me savor the earth inside it." Page 59

The thought of all of those bottles and the despairing loved ones who were desperately hoping she might be able to give them some answers immediately stressed me out. This expectation and pressure made me feel uneasy, and I wanted the character to bring the bottles in and start working through them systematically. Maybe teaming up with a policeman to do it in a neat and tidy 'crime-meets-magical-realism, told from a feminist perspective' kind of way.

But this isn't that book, or like the TV show Medium. Instead, Reyes successfully highlights the fact that having this ability doesn't automatically equip the receiver with the necessary life skills to overcome their individual circumstances and become a community hero. Life just isn't like that.

Translated to English from Spanish by Julia Sanches, Eartheater has a dark and haunting atmosphere and I enjoyed the note from the translator at the end of the novel. ( )
  Carpe_Librum | Sep 1, 2023 |
This book was very good, but odd. I'm not sure if it was in the translation or if it was because it's written just outside the line of stream-of-conscious. It's not horror. It's paranormal, but not horror.

It's sad. The main character is poor and lives in an insular barrio community in Argentina. She can see a slice of the life of a person by eating the dirt of a place that is meaningful to them. There's a lot of violence against women. Most of the violence is treated as an unsurprising, everyday occurrence. Heartbreaking for the family and friends, but not as a larger tragedy.

Being immersed in the narrator's world is a hard read. She's eating literal dirt, which is, of course, a metaphor for the larger picture. But still... It's super gross. The narrator is aware of how grotesque it is and resists until she breaks through puberty and begins to see the pattern in the deaths of the women around her. Again, meaningful.

The book works. It digs at you and compels you to look at the ugliness of impoverished, patriarchal communities. This book could have been written in the 1930s, 1960s, 1990s or now. The setting could be in a million other places. Human behaviors never change. The only thing that really changes is the language the powerful uses to describe it. Damn, that's depressing.

I need to read something fun now. ( )
  rabbit-stew | Jun 26, 2022 |
Eartheater is a story with a great premise that never quite fulfills itself. The characters are mostly unrealized and the plot is a very shallow grave. It is a worthwhile read, but curb your expectations. This one's a tease. ( )
  jaimes_folly | May 25, 2022 |
if i understand this correctly, this is an interesting commentary on the femicides that are rampant and that go unnoticed or at least uninvestigated in south america, with some notes on class and place on the side. i believe that she is telling us that women and girls (and yes, some boys and men) are taken off the streets of their slums and neighborhoods and they disappear. some are sexually assaulted, some are killed, some have had accidents, but none are searched for. the police don't take seriously the spate of these missing women and girls, unless it hits close to their home.

the main character, the unnamed eartheater, can see the last moments of these women's lives, if she eats the dirt they walked on. if she connects with the land and the places that were frequently traveled by these women, she sees them and knows them and takes them into her. there's something here, i think, too, about connectivity to place, and maybe how the people of the place in some way become part of it. this ability of eartheater's causes her to be both sought after (because these disappearing women are everywhere and families are desperate to find them) and shunned as if she's some kind of witch. so this is also about community and ostracizing and belonging.

eartheater also has a relationship with a police officer, and this surprised me and i'm unsure what it means. maybe that in the same way the community makes assumptions about her, that she and we shouldn't make assumptions about the cops? i'm not sure how this part of the story fits.

it's told in small chapters, with some awkward time jumps, and some inconsistencies. it seemed like the translation was an excellent one (as much as i can tell something like that) and the translator's note in the back was much appreciated and enlightening. so the inconsistencies in the writing and story i think lie in the original. it wasn't the reason for the book, but i would have liked more character development throughout. most of the people aren't drawn very clearly. still, props for everything else she brings to this story - she is making an important point and does it with a unique story. ( )
  overlycriticalelisa | Oct 18, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dolores Reyesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Sanches, JuliaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
you who have only sweet words for the dead
—Leopoldo Maria Panero
No one has yet determined what the body can do.
—Baruch Spinoza (as translated by Edwin Curley)
Dedication
In memory of Melina Romero and Araceli Ramos. For the victims of femicide, for its survivors.
First words
The dead don't hang near the living. Get it through your head.
Quotations
I'd started noticing a special trait in people who were looking for someone, a mark near the eyes, the mouth, a mixture of pain, anger, strength, and expectation made flesh. A thing broken, possessed by the person who wasn't coming back.
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NAMED A "FALL 2020 MUST-READ" AND ONE OF THE "BEST BOOKS OF FALL 2020" BY TIME, VULTURE, THE BOSTON GLOBE, COSMOPOLITAN, WIRED, TOR AND MORE Electrifying and provocative, visceral and profound, a powerful literary debut novel about a young woman whose compulsion to eat earth gives her visions of murdered and missing people-an imaginative synthesis of mystery and magical realism that explores the dark tragedies of ordinary lives. Set in an unnamed slum in contemporary Argentina, Eartheater is the story of a young woman who finds herself drawn to eating the earth-a compulsion that gives her visions of broken and lost lives. With her first taste of dirt, she learns the horrifying truth of her mother's death. Disturbed by what she witnesses, the woman keeps her visions to herself. But when Eartheater begins an unlikely relationship with a withdrawn police officer, word of her ability begins to spread, and soon desperate members of her community beg for her help, anxious to uncover the truth about their own loved ones. Surreal and haunting, spare yet complex, Eartheater is a dark, emotionally resonant tale told from a feminist perspective that brilliantly explores the stories of those left behind-the women enduring the pain of uncertainty, whose lives have been shaped by violence and loss. Translated from the Spanish by Julia Sanches.

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