cover image Fresh Dirt from the Grave

Fresh Dirt from the Grave

Giovanna Rivero, trans. from the Spanish by Isabel Adey. Charco, $16.95 trade paper (158p) ISBN 978-1-913867-51-5

The assured if meandering collection from Bolivian author Rivero, her English-language debut, examines the relationships between predator and prey in North and South America. “Blessed Are the Meek” draws on a real-life occurrence in early 2000s Bolivia, when scores of Mennonite girls and women were raped. In Rivero’s telling, 15-year-old victim Elise is consistently denied a voice by her religious leaders. Meanwhile, Elise’s father plans revenge. In “Fish, Turtle, Vulture,” the lone survivor of a shipwreck visits the mother of a dead shipmate, who plies him with fresh tortillas, wonders how he lived for over a year with no supplies, and begs him to honestly recount the final days of her son’s life. “Kindred Deer,” the highlight, follows a married Bolivian couple living and studying in the U.S. Joaquín, the husband, makes money by being a subject for medical tests, but when a strange blotch grows on his back, he and his wife worry for his well-being. Though some stories run a bit too long, Rivero confidently and credibly gives voice to characters in harrowing situations. Fans of Latin American literature will be glad to encounter this worthy writer. (June)