cover image Humiliation


Paulina Flores, trans. from the Spanish by Megan McDowell. Catapult, $16.95 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-948226-24-0

Flores’s strong debut collection provides an intimate look at characters in a Chile brimming with desperation and misfortune. The nine stories’ settings range from ocean port cities to inner city projects. In each, readers see characters struggling with failures, job loss, divorce, missing parents, and poverty. In the title story, a father and his young daughters walk the streets as he desperately looks for work, only to end up humiliated when he arrives at what he thought was a job interview but is in fact a modeling agency interested in his daughters. In “Forgetting Freddy,” a middle-aged woman wrestles with her failures as an adult: unable to manage a job due to depression and having been left by her long-term lover, she now lives with her mother and sees herself in the face of her mother, who was also abandoned by her partner. In even darker stories like “Talcahuano,” a young boy runs wild with a gang, preparing to steal instruments from his local church. Instead, the night of the anticipated heist, he find a terrifying scene at home involving his father. With ever-changing narrative perspectives, Flores’s intense stories are tied together with dark, palpable emotion, portraying characters trapped in circumstances beyond their control. This is a challenging, impressive collection. (Nov.)