Hurricane Season

by Fernanda Melchor

Other authorsSophie Hughes (Translator)
Hardcover, 2020




New Directions (2020), 224 pages


"The Witch is dead. And the discovery of her corpse-by a group of children playing near the irrigation canals-propels the whole village into an investigation of how and why this murder occurred. Rumors and suspicions spread. As the novel unfolds in a dazzling linguistic torrent, with each unreliable narrator lingering details, new acts of depravity or brutality, Melchor extracts some tiny shred of humanity from these characters that most would write off as utterly irredeemable, forming a lasting portrait of a damned Mexican village. Like Roberto Bolaño's 2666 or Faulkner's greatest novels, Hurricane Season takes place in a world filled with mythology and violence-real violence, the kind that seeps into the soil, poisoning everything around: it's a world that becomes more terrifying and more terrifyingly real the deeper you explore it"--… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member JJbooklvr
A slice of life in a small Mexican village filled with violence and heartbreak. The Witch is murdered but we don't learn why until much later. Instead we see the town and event through the eyes of the various characters and learn just how brutal and hopeless life can seem for these people.
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Definitely difficult to read at times but I had to keep going to see how the story ended!

I will say it did take me a bit to get used to the style the author chose to tell this story. I read this in translation so have to wonder just how well it captures the tone and flow of the original.
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LibraryThing member sogamonk
I am not quite sure what to think of this book
I read it in Spanish, but i am not completely familiar with some of the slang words used throughout the story.
The story is a depiction of life in a Mexican village . Extreme poverty. Which leads to all the things she writes about. Indiscriminate sex,
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drugs, crime, incest, misogyny, and many more.
It leaves the reader with a sense of despair, depression and sadness.
Quite sure what the author wanted to achieve.
Not a read for everyone.
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LibraryThing member Dreesie
I struggled to find the rhythm of this book. With no paragraphs and limited punctuation, it is described on the front flap as a "linguistic torrent". An excellent description for what I would call a stream-of-consciousness novel. Each chapter--and they vary in length considerably--features a
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different character as the main actor. Is that the narrator? Not exactly, there are no quotes but you are kind of in their head. But all of the narrators as such are unreliable. All live in the same small Mexican town, all are generally unhappy, all know the others, but each has his/her own perspective and knowledge. So even if they don't mean to be exactly unreliable, they are. Violence, drugs, alcohol, sex, religion, lies, parties, annual celebrations, and the witch. As I approached the end of the book I had to go reread the beginning and parts of the earlier chapters, as the characters briefly mentioned earlier are fleshed out later, so the earlier chapters make more sense. Probably a book that needs to be reread immediately, but I just can't. I miss sentences.
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LibraryThing member queencersei
In a small Mexican village a witch is found dead in a drainage ditch. Told through the stories of various townspeople, the violence of this one act reverberates throughout the community.

This was a tough book to get through. It clocks in at just over 200 pages, but it is a tough read. The central
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murder is both the unifying moment and also incidental to the overall story. The small Mexican village where the crime occurs is awash in violence. The extreme homophobia and one long and graphic chapter detailing child sexual abuse make this an unrelentingly dark read.
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LibraryThing member evano
Why am I still reading this, I asked myself soon after I opened the book. It is an assault... A brutal monsoon of broken glass... A mudslide of filth and depravity mixed with blood and myth and an endless ocean of every human perversity... It took my breath away, and not in a good way, but in the
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way of an entire nation sitting on my chest and punching me in the throat.

Why do I want to keep reading, I asked myself part-way through? It is pornography and bloody horror; racism and misogyny of the most degrading type; exploitation and torture for the gratification of spectators. It is starvation and disease, drug addiction and narco-terror, deprivation and abuse... and I should turn away.

Why did I read it through -- every word, including the acknowledgments and the copyright pages?

Because it was true. True like the epigraph: "Some of the events described here are real. All of the characters are invented." True -- not like in true crime or non-fiction or fact-checked, investigated, annotated, footnoted reality. But true like the distillation of everyday life in poverty and despair in most of the world which I will never see.

Because it was a howling shrieking cacophony of pain from voices that were still recognizably human. Voices I could choose to shut out even if they couldn't choose to stop screaming.
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LibraryThing member whitsunweddings

Like, this is undoubtedly good but uh, it's a lot. There's a ton of specifically homophobic violence and just sexual violence in general and while I do appreciate this as a work of art (I liked the disjointed rush of it, and got over the complete absence of paragraph breaks fairly quickly)
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and would be interested in reading other works by Fernanda Melchor - I kind of wish I hadn't read this. A lot of it is really unpleasant.
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LibraryThing member mitchn
Reminiscent of Roberto Bolano's 2066 in its fierce, unflinching portrait of evil, Melchor's third novel limns the blighted lives of the residents of Villagarbodas, a place where drugs, drink, and sex provide the only relief from the violence, squalor, and ignorance that haunt them. Based on the
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real-life murder of an alleged witch in Melchor's home state of Veracruz, the novel unspools in long, unbroken, Garcia Marquez-like chapters narrated by a revolving cast of characters: the perpetrators, one of the perp's mother and stepfather, a young runaway pregnant with her stepfather's child. The language Melchor uses to tell her tale (with an able assist from translator Sophie Hughes) is vivid and searing, an apt reflection of her characters' rage and frustration, while the banal brutality she captures -- an almost nihilistic embrace of every bad impulse a human being could have -- is at once arresting and disturbing. Not for the faint of heart, Hurricane Season is a stark reminder that, for too many on this planet, Hobbes' pessimistic view of human nature is an all-but-inescapable reality.
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LibraryThing member burritapal
Absolutely gripping.

Set somewhere in a small town not too far from the coast in Veracruz Mexico, this story has a cast of characters that have no aspirations for a grand life. They're just trying to make it from one day to the next. Some of them don't even work; they just party.
The style of writing
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is something different: long run on sentences, no paragraph breaks. But it didn't hinder my reading of it; to the contrary, I read this through pretty quickly. It was fairly engrossing. Maybe I liked it because it reminded me of a lot of the people that I used to come across when I worked as a bartender in a Mexican bar and restaurant on the east side of San Jose in the late 1980s. A lot of druggies, a lot of losers, a lot of narcotics officers, quite obvious. I was a party-er, too, but I guess you'd call me a high achiever. I held down a union job as a printer, I had a pretty nice, new sports car, and I had my own apartment. I got in trouble a time or two, but I always knew how to get myself out of trouble. I'm talking about men trouble, not jail trouble. Never me. I knew one thing: if you can't face the consequences of the worst case scenario, then just don't do it.

Many many many bar scenes go on in this book, and I looked up a couple of songs from this book: "zacatito pa'al connejo," was one, "un hombre normal," the latter of which I added to my tracks on my music platform.

There's a lot of atmosphere in this book: for one thing it's so blisteringly, jungly hot all the time, that everybody's running with sweat. People are not going around freshly bathed, for another. Sometimes this reader is glad that there's no way to smell what the author is envisioning.

Norma is a character that I felt my heartstrings tugged by. She's a little 13-year-old, whose stepfather has gotten her pregnant, so what does she do? she runs away. Her mother had often told her that she was going to get her "Sunday sevens." I had to look this up myself, but then later the author explains it.
Her horrible stepfather takes advantage of her innocence, and her innate desire to be loved, and sure enough she is served with her Sunday sevens.
I don't know where she was better off, where she ran away to, where the mother of her boyfriend took her to a witch and got her a potion to get rid of the baby, or where she lived with her mother and stepfather, where her mother left her with all the chores of the family and taking care of all the many younger siblings, besides trying to keep up with her schoolwork. Lawdy, poor child.
The potion that the witch gives Norma almost kills her, but it does get rid of the baby. On the way back from the witch's house, Chabela, her boyfriend's mother, is hurrying her along when it begins to take effect:
" '. . . Move it, mamacita, we've got to get back before those cunts arrive; I'm going to have to leave you to it, but don't you worry; take that and you're all set. Tomorrow morning you'll be like new, you'll see, I've done it a hundred times and it's no big deal, but don't drag your heels, mamacita, jesus, I had no idea of the time! I haven't even had a wash yet. Shit! Shake a leg, clarita, fuck me! [Norma reminds Chabela of someone named Clarita.] Norma tried to keep up with chabela but she began to get the feeling that the woman's voice was coming from further and further away and that if she didn't hurry up she'd be left alone in the darkness clutching her jar, the foul contents of which every last drop, she was supposed to drink. And the witch had been right: Norma could barely contain the heaving waves of nausea brought on by that gunk, but harder still was holding back her screams of agony when the pain finally hit her: times it felt like someone was ripping out her insides, stretching and stretching them until the flesh tore away, and who knows where she found the strength to crawl off the mattress and out into the yard, turn her back on the Casita and dig a hole in the dirt with her fingers and her nails and with the little rocks that she dug up as she went; a hole she climbed into, squatting through the pain that turned her sex into a great sickled gash, and then pushing until she felt something inside of her burst, and still she felt the need to put her fingers up their -- to make sure there was nothing left inside -- before covering the hole, patting down the Earth with her bloody hands and then dragging herself back to the unmade mattress, curling up into a ball and waiting for the pain to pass, waiting for Luismi to come back from work, blackout drunk, and hug her from behind without realizing that she was bleeding profusely, that she was burning up - hug her until the following day at noon, when forced by The infernal heat in that squalid room, Norma tried to get off the mattress and couldn't and the only thing she managed to say to Luismi was it hurts, it hurts, and water, water, and when her lips touched the liquid from the bottle Luismi brought to her, Norma drank until she passed out and dreamed about the hole she'd dug behind the casita;.."
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Original language

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