cover image The Bitch

The Bitch

Pilar Quintana, trans. from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman. World Editions, $14.99 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-1-64286-059-7

A searing psychological portrait of a troubled woman contending with her instinct to nurture is at the heart of Colombian writer Quintana’s slim, potent English-language debut. Damaris, a lonely married woman, adopts a puppy from her neighbor and brings her to the small shack she shares with her husband, Rogelio, atop a jungle bluff overlooking the sea. Rogelio, a fisherman, hates dogs but owns three to protect his property. As Damaris pampers the dog, Quintana reveals through straightforward, commanding prose the couple’s history of failed attempts at having a child, and Damaris’s memories of loss, such as her mother being killed by a stray bullet and a neighbor boy being taken out to sea by a wave when they were eight. As the puppy, named Chirli after the daughter Damaris never had, grows, so does Damaris’s love for the dog, until Chirli disappears into the jungle. When the dog returns malnourished and wounded, Damaris nurses her back to health until she disappears again. The pattern continues, and Damaris grows resentful toward Chirli and becomes violent with her. The brutal scenes unfold quickly, with lean, stinging prose. Quintana’s vivid novel about love, betrayal, and abandonment hits hard. Agent: Sandra Pareja, Casanovas & Lynch Literary Agency. (Aug.)