cover image Simpatia


Rodrigo Blanco Calderón, trans. from the Spanish by Noel Hernández González and Daniel Hahn. Seven Stories, $18.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-64421-365-0

In the kinetic latest from Blanco Calderón (Sacrifices), a Venezuelan man navigates political and domestic upheaval after the fall of Hugo Chavez. The story kicks off in Caracas when Ulises Kan’s wife leaves him in order to flee the country and escape the repressive Maduro regime. Three months later, after the death of his father-in-law, Martín Ayala, Ulises finds out he’s been tasked by Martín’s will with turning the sprawling Ayala estate into a nonprofit dog rescue. According to the terms of the will, Ulises has four months to make the operation successful. If he does so, the house will be bequeathed to the organization in perpetuity and Ulises will receive an apartment on the estate. Otherwise, the property will go to Martín’s children and the rescue will be forced to shutter. Meanwhile, a woman Ulises had once been enamored with mysteriously reappears, and they begin a passionate love affair. More ominously, Ulises discovers the house is routinely monitored by federal agents and other shadowy figures. The twisty story is chock full of betrayals and intrigue as Ulises faces one hurdle after another in his quest to make good on the inheritance. This page turner has plenty of depth. (Mar.)