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PARADAIS by Fernanda Melchor
Translated by Sophie Hughes
As anyone who has read Hurricane Season knows, Fernanda Melchor is not the kind of author to pull her punches. Indeed, reading her can sometimes feel like standing inside a burning fireworks factory in nothing but a fraying g-string. Sure, it might be spectacular but you’re going to get scorched where it hurts most. To that end, Paradais is exactly what you’d expect.
Teenagers Franco and Polo live parallel but extremely different lives on a Mexican housing estate. Franco is the lonely, porn-obsessed son of a high flying lawyer. The local laughing stock, he dreams of sleeping with his glamorous neighbour. Polo, on the other hand, is part of the hired help, doing shit odd jobs for entitled pricks that call Paradais home. They are both desperate to find a way out. And then Franco ropes Polo into his scheme to make good on his fantasy. Cue the train wreck.
Melchor’s vulgar yet elegant prose crackles with explosive energy; the perfect vehicle for this frenetic tale of sex, violence, crime, desperation and horror. And yet, for all its Guy Ritchie chaos, Paradais is a blistering (and blisteringly intelligent) interrogation of privilege and class disparity. Read it, but bring some aloe.
Paradais by Fernanda Melchor (Tr. Sophie Hughes))
Text Publishing/New Directions, 2022