Argentinian writer Cristoff’s second book to be translated into English (after False Calm) is a dark, funny novel—part psychological thriller, part social satire, part crime caper—about a simultaneous interpreter who takes a vow of silence and a job at a provincial museum west of Buenos Aires. Mara is in her late 30s when her career as an interpreter at international conferences ends abruptly following an incident at a summit: she stops translating a philanthropist’s speech and instead recites from her own manual on how to use spoken and unspoken communications to manipulate and maneuver, implicating the philanthropist, his audience, and even the interpreters. Afterwards, determined to speak as little as possible for a year, Mara finds work as a security guard at the Udaondo Museum in Luján, founded in the 1920s to preserve local heritage. Her duties include guarding the Means of Transportation Room, which features two taxidermied horses, Mancha and Gato. An unwelcome promotion to assistant helping the taxidermist hired to repair Mancha and Gato provides Mara with the opportunity to use her planning and preparation skills for an act of sabotage that leaves the newly repaired horses in ruins. Cristoff cites jokes and historical documents, contrasts provincialism and cosmopolitanism, while devoting her most acute observations to the meaninglessness of words and the meanings of silence. This is a striking, clever novel. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 10/11/2019 Release date: 02/01/2020 Genre: Fiction
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