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Additional Information
ISBN: 9781949641097
Pages: 184
Size: 5x8
Publication Date: February 9, 2021
Distributed By: Publishers Group West
Elvira Navarro won the Community of Madrid’s Young Writers Award in 2004. Her first book, La ciudad en invierno (The City in Winter), published in 2007, was well received by the critics, and her second, La ciudad feliz (The Happy City, Hispabooks, 2013) was given the twenty-fifth Jaén Fiction Award and the fourth Tormenta Award for best new author, as well as being selected as one of the books of the year by Culturas, the arts and culture supplement of the Spanish newspaper Público. Granta magazine also named her one of their top twenty-two Spanish writers under the age of thirty-five. She contributes to cultural magazines such as El Mundo newspaper’s El Cultural, to Ínsula, Letras Libres, Quimera, Turia, and Calle 20, and to the newspapers Público and El País. She writes literary reviews for Qué Leer and contributions for the blog “La tormenta en un vaso.” She also teaches creative writing.
Christina MacSweeney received the 2016 Valle Inclan prize for her translation of Valeria Luiselli's The Story of My Teeth, and Among Strange Victims(Daniel Saldaña París) was a finalist in the 2017 Best Translated Book Award. Among  the other authors she has translated are: Elvira Navarro (A Working Woman), Verónica Gerber Bicecci (Empty Set; Palabras migrantes/Migrant Words), and Julián Herbert (Tomb Song; The House of the Pain of Others). She is currently working on a second novel by Daniel Saldaña París and her translations of short story collection by  Elvira Navarro and Julián Herbert will be published in 2020.

Rabbit Island

by Elvira Navarro
Translated from Spanish by
Christina MacSweeney
$19.95

“This author’s literary talent is a natural gift…the subtle, almost hidden, true avant-gardist of her generation.” —Enrique Vila-Matas, author of Mac’s Problem

“Elvira Navarro is an enormously gifted and disturbing young writer with an unusual eye for the bizarre; she captures personal fragility with deceptively detached prose that stays with us like a scarring incision.” —Lina Meruane, author of Seeing Red

Combining the gritty surrealism of David Lynch with the explosive interior meditations of Clarice Lispector, the stories in Elvira Navarro’s Rabbit Island traverse the fickle, often terrifying terrain between madness and freedom. In the title story, a so-called “non-inventor” conducts an experiment on an island inhabited exclusively by birds and is horrified by what the results portend.  “Myotragus” bears witness to a man of privilege’s understanding of the world being violently disrupted by the sight of a creature long thought extinct. Elsewhere, an unsightly “paw” grows from a writer’s earlobe; a grandmother floats silently in the corner of a room.

These eleven stories from one of Granta’s “Best Young Spanish-Language Novelists” are psychogeographies of dingy hotel rooms, shape-shifting cities, and graveyards. They act as microscopes fixed upon the regions of our interior lives we often neglect, where the death of God and the failures of institutions have given way to alternative modes of making sense of the world. They are cracked bedroom mirrors. Do you like what you see?

Praise

Praise for A Working Woman 

“[A] brilliant mindbender…Navarro’s exceptional novel defies easy interpretation, culminating in a breathtaking and surprising ending. The author is especially skilled at crafting the details and peculiarities of her two characters’ psyches, and the result is a singular novel of art, friendship, and lunacy.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A novel of economic and psychological precarity and an exploration of the tension between the boundedness of art and the formlessness of life, A Working Woman is as charming as a fable and as frenzied as a fever dream.” —Lit Hub

“Thoroughly gripping.” —World Literature Today

“From the outrageous to the mundane, Navarro offers a good deal of good observation and invention.” —Complete Review

“This author’s literary talent is a natural gift…the subtle, almost hidden, true avant-gardist of her generation.” —Enrique Vila-Matas, author of Bartleby & Co. and Vampire in Love

“Elvira Navarro is an enormously gifted and disturbing young writer with an unusual eye for the bizarre; she captures personal fragility with deceptively detached prose that stays with us like a scarring incision.” —Lina Meruane, author of Seeing Red

A Working Woman invents a language and a structure to portray the outskirts of the city and job insecurity like no novel has done before. Elvira Navarro is one of the most intelligent and daring writers in the Spanish-speaking world.” —Daniel Saldaña París, author of Among Strange Victims

Elvira Navarro won the Community of Madrid’s Young Writers Award in 2004. Her first book, La ciudad en invierno (The City in Winter), published in 2007, was well received by the critics, and her second, La ciudad feliz (The Happy City, Hispabooks, 2013) was given the twenty-fifth Jaén Fiction Award and the fourth Tormenta Award for best new author, as well as being selected as one of the books of the year by Culturas, the arts and culture supplement of the Spanish newspaper Público. Granta magazine also named her one of their top twenty-two Spanish writers under the age of thirty-five. She contributes to cultural magazines such as El Mundo newspaper’s El Cultural, to Ínsula, Letras Libres, Quimera, Turia, and Calle 20, and to the newspapers Público and El País. She writes literary reviews for Qué Leer and contributions for the blog “La tormenta en un vaso.” She also teaches creative writing.
Christina MacSweeney received the 2016 Valle Inclan prize for her translation of Valeria Luiselli's The Story of My Teeth, and Among Strange Victims(Daniel Saldaña París) was a finalist in the 2017 Best Translated Book Award. Among  the other authors she has translated are: Elvira Navarro (A Working Woman), Verónica Gerber Bicecci (Empty Set; Palabras migrantes/Migrant Words), and Julián Herbert (Tomb Song; The House of the Pain of Others). She is currently working on a second novel by Daniel Saldaña París and her translations of short story collection by  Elvira Navarro and Julián Herbert will be published in 2020.
Excerpt from the book

He’d built a canoe and wanted to try it out on the Guadalquivir River. Sports didn’t interest him, and he hadn’t made the canoe for regular use; once he’d explored the small river islands, it would be relegated to the junk room or sold. He thought of himself as an inventor, although the things he made couldn’t be called inventions. Yet he’d begun categorize all the ideas he sketched out in that way because he never used instruction manuals. His method was to work out for himself what was needed to construct something that had already been made. The process took months, and he considered it his true vocation: inventing things that had already been invented. The pleasure he got from that activity was something like what Sunday hikers feel when they reach the summit of some mountain and wonder why personal fulfillment is such a strange sensation. In the mornings the non-inventor taught in an arts and crafts college without any sense of fulfillment, despite the fact that his students found his workshops useful.

Since childhood he’d had the desire to travel to spits of land that extend into the sea, or to uninhabited islands. Once, when he was eighteen, his parents invited him to go with them to Tabarca, promising that it was a deserted island. He’d thought that it would be a wilderness, but what he found was seven streets of poor houses, a high wall, a church, a lighthouse, two hotels, and a small harbor. His parents had probably exaggerated the isolation of Tabarca in order to persuade him to spend the vacation with them—they didn’t like the idea of leaving him home alone; but it’s also possible that they had never really understood what he meant by uninhabited places.

It was no easy task to count the number of river islands on the stretch of the Guadalquivir adjoining the city. Some could be mistaken for small isthmuses. One September morning he walked to the dock carrying his canoe and took to the water. He spent several days getting the hang of his vessel, but once he had, he started to explore. There had been no rain for weeks. The river was very low; the water was calm and smelled really bad. He skirted the islands with a mixture of anxiety and astonishment, without ever managing to take the canoe ashore. He wasn’t confident of his ability to make rapid maneuvers, feared that the shorelines might be muddy, that he would slip and his canoe would drift away. And the thought of having to swim back with his mouth tightly closed to avoid swallowing putrid water scared him, as did the lush, brightly colored vegetation buzzing with insects, and the layer of bird shit on the ground. A landscape he’d believed to be beautiful was no more than trees deformed by the weight of birds—or perhaps some disease—colonies of bugs, and bushes rotted by the filth.

On his fifth day out in the canoe, he decided to explore beyond the curve in the Guadalquivir. Paddling south had the advantage of allowing him to keep the low rolling hills of the surrounding countryside in sight. The islets there were tiny, more rocky and packed closely together like a rash. He paddled laboriously around them; near the last one he found a dead body floating facedown in the reeds. It was a man, wearing only boxers; the skin on his back was covered in blisters the size of a hand. He didn’t know if they were caused by exposure to the sun, which was still scorching in September, or immersion in the water. The river stank. He called the civil defense unit and some officers arrived in a boat too big to pass through the reeds. They had a canoe onboard; while an obese officer was getting into it, he paddled to the boat and asked for permission to leave. He didn’t want to witness that dead flesh being dragged out of the water. He shrank at the thought of turning around to find fresh entrails nibbled by fish.