cover image Thirst


Marina Yuszczuk, trans. from the Spanish by Heather Cleary. Dutton, $28 (256p) ISBN 978-0-593-47206-4

Yuszczuk raises more questions than she answers in her atmospheric but muddled and meandering U.S. debut. It appears to be narrated in the first person by two different women, though even this scaffolding is set up to be questioned. Both women are nameless; both are disconnected from their human communities; both thirst for more than they can articulate. One of them is a vampire, who over the course of the novel’s first half, describes her brief human servitude to a vampiric master before being turned and haunting Europe for centuries, until her escape to the New World in the 1800s became expedient. The story’s credibility falters when she describes “the skin of the Black women” in Buenos Aires as something she “had never seen before,” despite having lived in cities as diverse as Bratislava, Hamburg, and Vienna. This failure of authorial research and imagination characterizes the vampiric monologue: a string of implausible sex-and-murder tableaux heavily inflected by de Sade and Angela Carter, all poetically but superficially described and building to nothing. Part two brings in the possible second voice, a woman in contemporary Buenos Aires wrestling with the impending death of her mother. By that point, however, many readers will already have grown impatient. This does not live up to its potential. Agent: Elianna Kan, Regal Hoffman. (Mar.)