It’s hard to overstate just how much of a brutal read Fernanda Melchor’s Paradais is. The tale of two outcast teens plotting a horrific act of violence in a gated Mexican community, this short novel is as sharp, incisive and cold as a paring knife.
Fernanda Melchor, who arrived on the international scene in 2020 with the equally savage Hurricane Season, has a remarkably singular voice. Her prose, which unspools in lengthy, clause-shifting sentences, is quite literally breathtaking. Its tone is spit-flecked and hate-filled, narrated by an omnipotent voice that could easily be that of an appalled god.
Paradais’ scorn leaves no corner of Mexican society untouched. Inequality, narco-violence and grotesque misogyny are ever-present, which Melchor smartly ties to the motivations of the awful lead characters. Their actions are never excused, just contextualised by the grim machinations of Melchor’s horrendous world.
Flirtations with folklore and the supernatural only compound the horror and make the grisly denouement even more shocking. At just 118 pages, Paradais is a quick read, yet its dazzling language and brutal worldview will stay with you long beyond its end.
Paradais, Fernanda Melchor (Fitzcarraldo)
Price: £10.99/£4.99 Ebook. Info: here
words TOM MORGAN
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