I took off my dress and the petticoats and I put on the Englishman's breeches and shirt. I put on his neckerchief and asked Liz to take the scissors and cut my hair short. My plait fell to the ground and there I was, a young lad. Good boy she said to me, then pulled my face towards her and kissed me on the mouth. It surprised me, I didn't understand, I didn't know you could do that and it was revealed to me so naturally: why wouldn't you be able to do that? Liz's imperious tongue entered my mouth, her spicy, flowery saliva tasted like curry and tea and lavender water.
1872. The pampas of Argentina. China is a young woman eking out an existence in a remote gaucho encampment. After her no-good husband is conscripted into the army, China bolts for freedom, setting off on a wagon journey through the pampas in the company of her new-found friend Liz, a settler from Scotland. While Liz provides China with a sentimental education and schools her in the nefarious ways of the British Empire, their eyes are opened to the wonders of Argentina's richly diverse flora and fauna, cultures and languages, as well as to the ruthless violence involved in nation-building.
This subversive retelling of Argentina's foundational gaucho epic Martín Fierro is a celebration of the colour and movement of the living world, the open road, love and sex, and the dream of lasting freedom. With humour and sophistication, Gabriela Cabezón Cámara has created a joyful, hallucinatory novel that is also an incisive critique of national myths.
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About the Author
Gabriela Cabezón Cámara was born in Buenos Aires in 1968. Her debut novel La virgen cabeza (published in English as Slum Virgin by Charco Press, 2017) was followed by Romance de la negra rubia (Romance of the Black Blonde, 2014) as well as by two collections of short stories. In 2011 she published the novella Le viste la cara a Dios (You've Seen God's Face), later republished as a graphic novel, Beya (Biutiful), illustrated by Iñaki Echeverría. Beya was awarded the Argentine Senate's Alfredo Palacios Prize and was recognised by the Buenos Aires City Council and the Congress of Buenos Aires Province for its social and cultural significance as well as for its contribution in the fight against human trafficking. During 2013, she was writer-in-residence at UC Berkeley, and in 2019 she was part of the Literarisches Colloquium Berlin.
Fiona Mackintosh is a Senior Lecturer in Latin American Literature at the University of Edinburgh with research interests in gender studies, comparative literature and literary translation. Fiona specialises in Argentinian fiction and poetry and has published extensively on Alejandra Pizarnik and Silvina Ocampo in particular, as well as on contemporary authors. She has translated Luisa Valenzuela's The Other Book for Bomb magazine and selected poems by Esteban Peicovich for In Other Words. She is currently writing a book on the novels of Claudia Piñeiro.
Iona Macintyre is a Senior Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at the University of Edinburgh. Iona's teaching and research has focused on nineteenth-century Spanish American history and culture. Within this area she works primarily on Argentina, history of the book, translation studies, gender studies and transatlantic relations. She has also published on the contemporary fiction of Jorge Accame.
- International Booker Prize 2020 --Longlist
"An unexpected ride that delivers on all accounts." --DIVA Magazine
10 Best Translated Books 2019 --Books and Bao
Best books published in Latin America 2017 --New York Times
20 Best Latin American books 2017 --El País
Best books dealing with feminism, sisterhood and queerness --Pagina/12
Best Books of 2017 --Los inRockuptibles