cover image Me, Who Dove into the Heart 
of the World

Me, Who Dove into the Heart of the World

Sabina Berman, trans. from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman. Holt, $23 (240p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9325-4

Classified as a “highly functioning autistic” but known to herself simply as “Me,” the remarkable narrator of Mexican poet and playwright Berman’s entrancing debut is happiest at the bottom of the sea, among her beloved tuna. Karen Nieto was found as a child living in squalor and taught to speak by her caring Aunt Isabelle, who returns to Mazatlán to resuscitate the family cannery business. Though it becomes clear that Karen’s IQ lies, as Isabelle bluntly put it, “between imbecile and idiot,” Karen also has vision, specifically to bring humane fishing practices to the cannery, Consolation Tuna Ltd., where she loves watching the fish, or, when that isn’t possible, walking around in a wetsuit and diving mask. In college—in scenes that bring to mind Temple Grandin’s early struggles to be recognized in her field—Karen butts heads with a professor renowned for his development of humane slaughter techniques. Though higher education isn’t for her, the professor’s ideas fuel her transformation of Consolation Tuna into the world’s first humane tuna fishery, despite protests from radical animal rights groups. The unique voice—lyrical and questioning, is powerful enough to carry the story, but the conservation plot line adds an extra boost. Agent: Thomas Colchie. (Aug.)