cover image Stranger to the Moon

Stranger to the Moon

Evilio Rosero, trans. from the Spanish by Victor Meadowcroft and Anne McLean. New Directions, $13.95 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-0-8112-2862-6

Colombian writer Rosero (The Armies) delivers a taut allegory about inequality and abuse in which one set of people, who are clothed, oppress those who are made to stay naked. The naked live apart from the clothed in an overcrowded house without enough food. The clothed revel in forcing menial, sexual, and degrading tasks upon the naked, as well as torturing and executing them via luridly sadistic means involving barbed wire, excrement, hot coals, and more. The narrator lives in a wardrobe in the house, alone except for when the clothed arrive to throw parties for themselves at the expense of the naked, and stuff those they consider undesirable into the wardrobe. Gradually, a story emerges in the narrator’s acts of rebellion, beginning with a refusal to allow the clothed to examine the narrator’s sexual organs, and culminating with an uncomfortable truth linking oppressed and oppressor. Throughout, Rosero’s prose, translated with lyricism by Meadowcroft and McLean, conveys the characters’ horrifying human nature with aplomb (on the clothed: “they arrive sometimes like a fantastic whirlwind, whooping with excitement, and at other times with heads bowed, as if already repenting of the great error they wish to commit”). Disturbing and powerful, this one is hard to forget. (Sept.)