Not a River

Selva Almada, Annie McDermott (trans). Charco Press. (99p) ISBN: 9781913867454
Not a River
Not a River

I’ve a great respect for Charco Press and have read all of Selva Almada’s previous works that have been published by them as she has become one of my ‘buy with no questions asked authors’ this one though I bought one hour before it was announced as a long listed book for the International Booker Prize 2024 which meant I had to read it immediately.

I immediately had a feeling of a Hemmingway work, the battle against the forces of nature, pitting selves against the unknown. But this gradually changed into the often oppressive world of Selva Almada.

There is the river that runs as a common thread through all the lives that are explored and that intertwining and meandering is reflected in the connections and branches of circumstance that connect the characters in this tale.

There is the heat which is reflected in the often lethargic prose that is slow but steady and meaningful and along with the lushness of the countryside and jungle is reflected in the inner passions of the characters.

Selva uses the characters to explore the meanings of masculinity and femininity in a society that is extremely polarised along gender lines and the possible consequences of these roles.

Tragedy piles upon tragedy, the friends return to the spot of their tragedy repeatedly and there is another return but this time unexpected.

This was an engrossing read and I couldn’t stop as with everything I’ve read from Selva Almada. Moving and unexpected, a wonderful read.

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