The Scent of Buenos Aires

Hebe Uhart, trans. from the Spanish by Maureen Shaughnessy. Archipelago, $24 trade paper (484p) ISBN 978-1-939810-34-2
This collection from Uhart (1936–2018), her first to be translated into English, introduces new readers to a refreshing and unique writer. Uhart’s stories are written in a voice that’s frank, almost conversational, and occasionally humorous, but they land with surprising gravitas. In “The Stories Told by Cecilia’s Friends,” the titular stories, though mundane, turn out to be oddly prescient for Cecilia, inducing a new outlook on life. Though none are very long, Uhart’s briefest tales are snatches of a scene (“At the Hair Salon”), allegorical (“Christmas Eve in the Park”), or have the tone of a bedtime tale (“The Boy Who Couldn’t Fall Asleep”). While some nail their intent, such as “At the Hair Salon,” which nicely encapsulates the perfect storm of vanity and gossip in a hair salon, or “Hello Kids,” in which children sharply observe animals at the zoo, others can feel like filler, such as “My New Love,” which uses lover’s language to describe a dog. Still, there’s a wonderfully off-kilter humanity to Uhart’s writing that readers are sure to respond to. This collection feels like a deserved celebration of a writer’s career. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 08/09/2019
Release date: 10/15/2019
Genre: Fiction
Book - 978-1-939810-35-9
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