cover image The Iliac Crest

The Iliac Crest

Cristina Rivera Garza, trans. from the Spanish by Sarah Booker. Feminist, $16.95 trade paper (200p) ISBN 978-1-55861-435-2

This astounding and thought-provoking novel from Rivera Garza (No One Will See Me Cry) opens during a stormy night: two women visit an unnamed narrator at his oceanside home and gradually unravel his life. The first woman, whom the narrator has never met before, shares the name of neglected Mexican author Amparo Dávila. The second woman arrives shortly after and promptly faints—it’s the narrator’s former partner, whom he refers to as the Betrayed. The narrator, who works at a hospital for terminal patients (“My life among the dead was boring, to be sure, but at least it had the merit of being routine”), becomes increasingly disturbed by the two women, who claim to know his secret. Amparo, meanwhile, says a patient at the narrator’s hospital stole her manuscript, and she wants the narrator to retrieve it for her. This leads the narrator on a journey through his unnamed country (though it’s clearly Mexico) that fractures his sense of reality and shifts his understanding of his own gender. Rivera Garza’s novel succeeds as a suspenseful psychological horror story in the vein of a David Lynch film or Ingmar Bergman’s Persona, as a dissolver of the space between genders, and as a challenge to the cultural erasure of the real-life Dávila. The result is mind-bending. (Oct.)