cover image December Breeze

December Breeze

Marvel Moreno, trans. from the Spanish by Isabel Adey and Charlotte Coombe. Europa, $18 trade paper (448p) ISBN 978-1-60945-802-7

Colombian writer Moreno (1939–1995) makes her English-language debut with a layered if diffuse story of late 1970s Colombia. Lina, an inveterate reader, offers an incisive perspective on the lives of three women, all of whom were former classmates. The sensual Dora marries a brutish, narcissistic medical doctor named Benito Suárez, pointedly named for Mussolini by his Italian mother. Catalina, daughter of a beautiful socialite, is coveted by many, but she marries the secretly gay Alvaro Espinoza, a domineering psychiatrist and sometime provincial governor. Finally, there’s Beatriz, who marries Javier, but whose dalliance with would-be revolutionary Victor has drastic consequences. Lina saves Dora from Benito after he attacks her, and Catalina takes revenge on Alvaro by manipulating him into committing suicide. Though the long, convoluted sentences wear on the reader, as does the lack of cohesion, Lina’s insights on domineering men are hard to ignore (“[they] seemed to her like those enemies that stalk mankind, like disease and madness, forces that need to be warded off in the name of dignity”). Fans of the Latin American Boom will want to give this a look. (Nov.)