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Fernanda Melchor

  • awardShortlisted, Dublin Literary Award, Ireland, 2023
  • awardLonglisted, International Booker Prize, United Kingdom, 2022
  • Translated by Sophie Hughes

    Inside a luxury housing complex, two misfit teenagers sneak around and get drunk. Franco, lonely, overweight, and addicted to porn, obsessively fantasises about seducing his neighbour—an attractive married woman and mother—while Polo dreams about quitting his gruelling job as a gardener in the gated community and fleeing his overbearing mother and their narco-controlled village. Facing the impossibility of getting what they think they deserve, Franco and Polo hatch a mindless and macabre scheme.

    Melchor is a thrilling writer, her electric prose charged with the power to transform the reader. Paradais explores the explosive nature of Mexico’s brittle society, fractured by issues of race, class and violence—and confronts us with teenagers whose desires and hardships can tear life apart.


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    Review 31    

    Fernanda Melchor
    About the Author

    Fernanda Melchor was born in 1982 in Veracruz, Mexico. She is widely recognised as one of Mexico’s most exciting new voices. She won the Anna-Seghers-Preis and the International Literature Award for Hurricane Season, which was also longlisted for the National Book Award, shortlisted for the International Booker Prize and was a New York Times...

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    About the Translator

    Sophie Hughes has translated works by Laia Jufresa and Enrique Vila-Matas, among others. Her translation of Fernanda Melchor’s Hurricane Season was shortlisted for the International Booker Prize. She has also translated Melchor’s recent novel Paradais and her collection of non-fiction pieces, This Is Not Miami. In 2021 she was awarded the Queen...

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    Text publication date:
    1 March 2022
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    Praise for Fernanda Melchor

    ‘Fernanda Melchor has a powerful voice, and by powerful I mean unsparing, devastating, the voice of someone who writes with rage, and has the skill to pull it off.’

    ‘Fernanda Melchor explores violence and inequity in this brutal novel. She does it with dazzling technical prowess, a perfect pitch for orality, and a neurosurgeon’s precision for cruelty. Paradais is a short inexorable descent into Hell.’

    ‘The ‘elemental cry’ of Ms. Melchor’s writing voice, a composite of anger and anguish, is entirely her own.’

    ‘Melchor evokes the stories of Flannery O’Connor, or Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings. Impressive.’

    ‘Melchor’s feverish prose is fierce and all-consuming…The experience of reading this short book is both shocking and energising, but it’s worth noting that, while disconcerting, Melchor’s furious scrutiny of both misogyny and capitalism is never gratuitous.’

    Paradais explores the explosive nature of Mexico’s brittle society, fractured by issues of race, class and violence and confronts us with teenagers whose desires and hardships can tear life apart.’

    ‘Time spent with her writing leaves no doubt: the unholy noise she creates is the work of someone who knows exactly which notes to hit…Melchor’s determination to show rather than judge, even amid mounting horror, preserves her characters’ humanity…“I wanted to write a novel that the reader just couldn’t let go [of]”, Melchor said of Hurricane Season. She succeeded, and now she’s done it again.’

    ‘[Melchor’s] long, fevered sentences – which carry off daredevil moves, such as shifting tense and viewpoint from one clause to the next – combine with the emotional and physical violence of the story to produce a cacophonous effect. But time spent with her writing leaves no doubt: the unholy noise she creates is the work of someone who knows exactly which notes to hit.’

    Paradais is a torrent of piss and shit and blood and semen, but for all its visceral realism it also possesses a mythic quality. It’s all here: Elysium, the gates of Hades, and an explorer-hero whose great moment results only in him finding himself back where he started.’

    ‘Melchor uses shock to lay bare issues of classism, misogyny, and the ravages of child abuse. Her prose, ably translated by Hughes, is dizzying but effective; it’s as if she’s holding the reader’s head and daring them to look away from the social problems she brings to light. This might be a deeply disconcerting novel, but it’s also a brave one. A fever dream that’s as hard to read as it is brilliant.’

    ‘Melchor delivers us to her fool’s paradise with merciless precision, stripped of narrative luxuries like vengeance or confession, and instead debarking for a land where violence is simply a descriptive feature.’

    ‘We’re immediately drawn into [Melchor’s] world…[with] these running, rolling sentences…The writing just pulls you through, beginning to end.’

    ‘A breathless, powerful read…It’s confronting. It’s awful. It’s intelligent. It’s hard to look away. I think it’s well worth it.’

    ‘Melchor is an incredibly gifted writer.’

    ‘Melchor is a masterful writer. Her sentences are long yet breathless, and she will make your heart race. She skilfully captures class, violence, misogyny and intrusive thoughts with incredible detail, and offers a glimpse into inner worlds you might not otherwise see.’

    ‘Melchor’s vulgar yet elegant prose crackles with explosive energy…Paradais is a blistering (and blisteringly intelligent) interrogation of privilege and class disparity.’

    ‘Brilliant, sinewy, streetwise…Melchor’s telling is psychologically revealing, finding ever deeper reservoirs of rage and dread in its characters.’

    ‘Fernanda Melchor is one of my favorite writers alive, and her latest novel, Paradais, translated by Sophie Hughes, is a slim, grotesque, and often breathless cataclysm, a story of contemporary moral decay that I truly could not put down.’

    Other editions ofParadais
    • Paradais
      ISBN: 9781922459718
      1 March 2022
      Buy ebook