cover image January


Sara Gallardo, trans. from the Spanish by Maureen Shaughnessy and Frances Riddle. Archipelago, $18 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-953861-64-1

The magnificent English-language debut from Argentine writer Gallardo (1931–1988), first published in 1958, portrays a 16-year-old girl’s dilemma after she gets pregnant. Nefer’s interior life is depicted in urgent terms over the course of a few days near the end of her first trimester. She wants to terminate the pregnancy before her family finds out—particularly her prying middle sister and her judgmental mother. While she considers various methods—riding hard on a horse, gathering thistle and other abortifacients—an ambivalence sets in. Though she blames the father, a ranch hand, she doesn’t consider the baby “his,” and as she withdraws emotionally from her family and sneaks off to a neighboring witch doctor for a consultation, she becomes increasingly attached to the child, whom she considers her “friend.” This lonely period in Nefer’s life culminates in a series of revelations, reversals, and surprises. The subtle workings of the story cleverly mirror the characters’ euphemistic dialogue about pregnancy (a relative asks if Nefer’s recently married oldest sister is “in the family way”), and Gallardo’s restraint makes the occasional moments of swelling emotion even more powerful. This deserves to be a classic. (Sept.)