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Fernanda Melchor Books In Order

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This is Not Miami (2023)Description / Buy at Amazon

Fernanda Melchor is a Mexican author and journalist best known for her debut novel “Hurricane Season” that she published in 2010. It was a critically acclaimed novel that won several awards such as the Anna Seghers Award and the International Literature Award. As a teen, she went to the Universidad Veracruzana from where she graduated with a Journalism degree. Since then, she has gone on to publish nonfiction and fiction short fiction and the novels “Falsa liebre” and “Aqui no es Miami” before publishing “Hurricane Season” in 2017. Her works have been featured in publications such as “Vanity Fair Latinoamerica,” “The Paris Review,” “GQ Latinoamerica,” “La Palabra y el Hombre,” “Vice Latinoamerica,” “Excelsior,” “Le Monde Diplomatique,” “Milenio seminal” and “Replicante” among others. She currently lives and works as a journalist and author in Puebla, Mexico.

Melchor grew up reading American literature and remembers that the first book she ever read was “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” in Spanish. It was when she was a teenager that she finally had the confidence to read novels written in English. However, she did not read classics but rather spent her time reading thriller and pseudo pornography that she got in second-hand bookstores or relatives’ shelves. Some of the authors she read during this period of her life included Taylor Caldwell, VC Andrews, Ann Rice, Harold Robbins, and John Grisham. While these were crappy reads, she did not have a choice until she went to college where she would read the likes of AM Homes, William Burroughs, JT Leroy, Truman Capote, Cormac McCarthy, Norman Mailer, and William Faulkner among others. She also loved to read about monsters and especially horror fiction. She had always loved horror but as she grew up, she gravitated towards true crime. Right from her teen years, she found a connection with horror stories since no matter how much she hated her life at a given time, she was always in a better position than the man being chased down by a psychopath. She believes that horror stories liberated her from all the tension of living in a violent society and gave her an understanding of the world she lived in. As such, true crime and horror stories like the one in her debut were something like a fairytale for children who lived in less violent places.

It was while Fernanda Melchor was working in Veracruz as a journalist that she found a body floating in an irrigation canal on the outskirts of a small village. The victim was a woman believed to be a witch while the suspect is an ex-lover who had killed her when she supposedly cast a spell on him to return to her arms. Initially, she thought about writing a Truman Capote like nonfiction narrative in a similar vein to “Cold Blood,” since she had recently read about the case a few years past. The reporter in that story had reported about a witch getting killed in a small village near Veracruz that just happened to be where Melchor was born and raised. She was very interested in finding out why the woman was killed and why the reporter believed the motive for the killing was witchcraft. She felt compelled to research and explore the murder of the woman given that it had happened in a nondescript place unlike many other murders in the area. But traveling in the rural areas of Veracruz in 2012 was dangerous. Moreover, even if she could get in touch with the killers, they were not likely to be willing to discuss their motives or methods. As such, interviews with the village residents and the suspect in the killing were out of the question as it presented too many variables many of which she could not control. Furthermore, asking too many questions as a journalist in the dangerous city of Veracruz could get one too much attention and some people had even been killed in the attempt. However, writing her story in the form of a work of fiction was safe. In an interview she gave to an El Salvadorian outlet, Melchor said that it was safer writing her work as fiction since the mobsters killed journalists but not writers.

Fernanda Melchor’s debut novel “Hurricane Season” starts with a gruesome murder. A female body had been found floating in an irrigation canal. The face had rotten away to look like a black mask under several twisted forms of black snakes. She is identified as a woman that had been nicknamed La Matosa or “the Witch” in English. She had been beloved in the village as she helped local women who needed traditional potions and lotions. At night, she held wild parties where the townsmen would flock to her hovel with its boarded-up doors and bricked up windows to use and abuse her. When her body is found in the canal, all manner of theories and rumors spread abroad. Some say she had a huge treasure in the house that someone got wind of, while others say she fornicated with the devil. Interviewing the villagers just brings in more complications as instead of bringing clarity, their testimonies only serve to muddy the waters even further. The men and women that had interacted with the women line up to give their version of events in spleen-venting, thick and ferocious torrents of hearsay and falsehoods. Melchor writes each chapter focused on one character whose tirade or tale unfolds in one paragraph filled with breathless, long sentences that build up the momentum before climaxing in feverish intensity. She writes of people who are unreliable narrators and this makes the work of the investigators very frustrating if not completely futile. After several characters prove to be typical in their unreliability the reader learns to take it in their stride and surrender to the novel’s linguistic thrills and dark energy. The result is a mesmerizing story with long sentences, that are full of interesting stories, obscene acts, and filthy language that will hold the interest of its readers right up to the very end.

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