cover image Confession


Martín Kohan, trans. from the Spanish by Daniel Hahn. Charco, $16.95 trade paper (150p) ISBN 978-1-913867-65-2

Kohan (Ethics) delivers a beguiling novel that reckons with Argentina’s turbulent political past through the eyes of Mirta López, a woman skirting the spotlight’s edge. The first part centers on 12-year-old Mirta, who in 1941 experiences her sexual awakening when she becomes obsessed with watching the neighbor’s eldest son, Videla. She confesses this attraction over a series of talks with the local priest, who doles out penance as Mirta’s curiosity about her own body increases. Over the years, however, Videla falls for a different girl, and Mirta settles down with someone else, as well. In part two, it’s 1977, and Videla, now the dictatorial leader of Argentina, is targeted for assassination by a group of guerillas within the People’s Revolutionary Army. The final section focuses on the elderly Mirta as she plays cards with her grandson and reminisces about the suspicions she once held regarding her son’s possible involvement in the country’s guerilla groups. Hahn’s translation is elegant and accessible, and though Kohan’s mosaic approach to storytelling may initially frustrate, as the pieces link together and intentions sharpen, the narrative becomes difficult to shake. This one is worth the work. Agent: Barbara Schavelzon, Schavelzon & Graham. (Sept.)