The summer holiday is a time for reading – especially in Argentina, where many businesses shut down, thermometer readings peak, and anyone who knows what’s good for them seeks out a relaxing spot in the shade.
What’s more, Buenos Aires is a good place to pick up some page-turners: this is, by some estimates, the city with the most bookstores per capita in the world. But with so many books to choose from, where do you start?
We asked four experts – journalists, writers, artists and booksellers – what caught their attention, moved them, and kept them going to the last page this season. Here’s what they said.
Gonzalo Heredia, writer and actor
Doce pasos hacia mí (Twelve steps towards myself), by Sofía Balbuena
Published by Vinilo
Vinilo publishes short books that play with non-fiction: they’re like fictionalized testimonies, in a way, which I really like. When I started reading this book, right after the first sentence, I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop. It blew my mind.
The book is about the protagonist’s alcohol addiction, how it influenced her life, and how she struggles to dominate her illness. It’s concrete, concise, raw writing, I would say ‘economical’. She doesn’t need to build an atmosphere, she drags you into the story right with the first words. She makes you feel empathy: we’re all fighting against ourselves.
Carime Morales, bookseller at Malatesta bookstore
Hay que llegar a las casas (One must get to the houses), by Ezequiel Pérez
Published by UNAHUR
We were five pages into the book and, as I cried, my partner laughed. There’s something so moving about that family of men from the river coastline that star in this book. And there’s also something disturbing in the river, which looks at them and messes with us, too. But that’s something left only for the readers to discover. What a beautiful summer read, a mystery novel that’s got a bit of fantasy, written with an imperceptible technique. I mean, well written.
A character returns to his hometown after a family tragedy – isn’t that how great books start? Kudos to UNAHUR publishers for adding yet another great literature piece from el litoral to the podium.
Imanol Subiela Salvo, journalist and cultural critic
Quebrada (Broken) by Mariana Travacio
Published by Planeta
A novel that can be fitted into ‘travel literature’: stories that become more powerful as their characters move from one place to another. In this case, Lina starts the trip and is followed by Relicario, her husband, who goes looking for her.
With resemblances to Pedro Páramo, the author develops topics like the role of women in their communities, life in rural areas and even death: Quebrada is marked by a thanatological perspective. It’s not exactly the search for their destiny that makes the characters from the novel move from one place to the other, but rather the desire to choose where and how to die.
Hinde Pomeraniec, journalist and writer
Las olvidadas (The Forgotten), by Cristina Mucci
Published by Editorial Sudamericana
I was overjoyed when I saw that Sudamericana was going to re-edit the biographies of three great Argentine women writers, written by Cristina Mucci. Those three women worked during the times when our publishing industry was led by Spanish literature. The book is called “Las olvidadas” (The Forgotten), and it unites the lives of Silvina Bullrich, Marta Lynch and Beatriz Guido, amazing and controversial authors that led the cultural scene with their books. Mucci reconstructs their lives and the historical time when they built their literary work, while at the same time discussing their good and bad sides.