This is Not Miami

This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Buy on Amazon Buy on
*This page contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you.
Send NetGalley books directly to your Kindle or Kindle app

To read on a Kindle or Kindle app, please add as an approved email address to receive files in your Amazon account. Click here for step-by-step instructions.
Also find your Kindle email address within your Amazon account, and enter it here.
Pub Date 10 May 2023 | Archive Date 24 May 2023

Talking about this book? Use #ThisisNotMiami #NetGalley. More hashtag tips!


Set in and around the city of Veracruz in Mexico, This is Not Miami delivers a series of devastating stories – spiraling from real events – that bleed together reportage and the author’s rich and rigorous imagination.

These cronicás – a genre unique to Latin American writing that blends reportage, narrative non-fiction, and novelistic forms – probe deeply into the motivations of murderers and misfits, into their desires and circumstances, forcing us to understand them – and even empathize – despite our wish to disdain them as monsters. As in her hugely acclaimed novels Hurricane Season and Paradais, and once again brilliantly translated by Sophie Hughes, Fernanda Mechor’s masterful stories show how the violent and shocking aberrations that make the headlines are only the surface ruptures of a society on the brink of chaos. 

Set in and around the city of Veracruz in Mexico, This is Not Miami delivers a series of devastating stories – spiraling from real events – that bleed together reportage and the author’s rich and...

Advance Praise

‘Melchor evokes the stories of Flannery O’Connor, or, more recently, Marlon James’s A Brief History of Seven Killings. Impressive.’

― Julian Lucas, New York Times

‘Fernanda Melchor has a powerful voice, and by powerful I mean unsparing, devastating, the voice of someone who writes with rage and has the skill to pull it off.’

― Samanta Schweblin, author of Fever Dream

‘Time spent with her writing leaves no doubt: the unholy noise she creates is the work of someone who knows exactly which notes to hit.’

— Chris Power, Guardian

‘She isn’t holding a Stendhalian mirror up to Mexican society; she’s dissecting its body and its psyche at the same time, unafraid of what she might find. ... In Melchor’s world, there’s no resisting the violence, much less hating it. All a novelist can do, she seems to suggest, is take a long, unsparing look at the hell that we’ve made.’

— Juan Gabriel Vázquez, New Yorker

‘Melchor evokes the stories of Flannery O’Connor, or, more recently, Marlon James’s A Brief History of Seven Killings. Impressive.’

― Julian Lucas, New York Times

‘Fernanda Melchor has a powerful...

Available Editions

EDITION Paperback
ISBN 9781804270189
PRICE £12.99 (GBP)

Available on NetGalley

NetGalley Shelf App (PDF)
Send to Kindle (PDF)
Download (PDF)

Average rating from 27 members

Featured Reviews

Searing yet humane, filled with violence and brutality, fear and unquenchable hope that life could be different, Melchor has pulled together a series of relatos ('tales', 'accounts') that build up to a portrait of Veracruz and its inhabitants.

Ravaged by the drug trade, failed by a government and system where justice and social support are non existent, crippled by institutionalised corruption and fear, living amidst shootouts on the street - and yet there are still moments of humanity and grace to be found: the dock-worker who gives a half-drowned refugee his last piece of bread, for example.

It's hard to understand where this refusal to succumb to despair comes from: these stories depict prison life, poverty, casual cruelties where women kill and mutilate their children, where a rapist is lynched by the family of his victim, a terrifying story of a haunted house - and yet somewhere there is a resistance to simply folding and giving up under the weight of so much misery and desolation.

The writing is never ostentatious, never dramatic or 'look at me' even when describing outrageous events (and a shout-out to Sophie Hughes for such a natural translation) but this is powerful stuff.

File this alongside other contemporary Latin American women authors who are combining intense, engaging, politicised and hard-hitting writing with a sense of literature as itself a form of humanism and resistance.

Was this review helpful?

Another brilliant book by Fernanda Melchor, a gorgeous set of essays which reads very much like her fiction. I will read everything by this author.

Was this review helpful?

It’s been days since I finished This Is Not Miami and I still think about it. No writer has excited me this much — I do not refrain from calling her the freshest voice in literary fiction right now, an adjective always used liberally. Cronicás are not just third page news or mere reportage. It is as if you are watching a docu-fiction like Tarnation, perfectly blending fact and fiction.

Was this review helpful?

This is Not Miami – Fernanda Melchor (translated from Spanish by Sophie Hughes)

The city cannot tell its own story, or any story at all. As Sartre pointed out, reality does not tell stories; that is the job of language and memory.

My thanks to @fitzcarraldoeditions and @netgalley for my copy of this book – look out for it when it’s published on 10th May.

“Relatos” doesn’t translate well into English – “tales” or “accounts” doesn’t quite do the job. What Melchor has done in this book is try to tell the stories as honestly as possible, using the obliqueness inherent in language to the stories’ advantage (the author’s own words, more or less). What we get, therefore, is a collection of narrative non-fiction based around the Mexican city of Veracruz, all of it exploring the dark underbelly of human nature and Mexican society.

If you’ve read “Hurricane Season” or “Paradais” then the tone will be familiar, with aspects of Mexican cartels, machismo, violence against women, murder, all covered to certain extents, though none as much as the drug trade. It’s almost a character, sinking its teeth into every character and situation in the town, or at least lurking in the background. Locals are ruled by it, seduced by it, killed by it.

It's honestly a fantastic collection -Melchor is a fantastic writer, one with an ear for dialogue and an eye for detail, both of which lead to her creating incredibly engaging pieces. Almost all of them could have been extended, teased out into longer pieces, and the brevity of some of the articles here might leave many readers wanting more. For me, they were close to perfect.

If you can handle the darkness, then get your hands on this as soon as you can. An easy recommendation from me.

Have you read any Melchor? What did you think?

Was this review helpful?

A True Cross to bear.

A stunning collection of vignettes - following on from, but largely pre-dating, her novels 'Hurricane Season' and 'Paradaiso' - from Fernanda Melchor. Basically an immersive version of the lurid Mexican tabloids glimpsed on news-stands that exposes the rotten to the core-ness of the Mexican state, and the lengths (And depths) pepole have to go to to survive. Tales of hustlers, corruption, demons, victims, and narcos, but with an innate understanding of the mechanisms that link them all together.

Thanks to Fitzcarraldo and NetGalley for this ARC.

Five stars.

Was this review helpful?

Literary journalism is a new one for me but Fernanda Melchor is not. I loved Hurricane Season so thanks to Netgalley for this ARC.

This Is Not Miami is a collection of non-fiction stories carefully told from the point of view of the witnesses. I admit to spending quite a lot of my time during the reading Googling the various players in these often disturbing and gruesome tales.

Fernanda Melchor, for me, in one of those writers who may be incapable of putting a foot wrong and, I suspect, there's much more and even greater stories to come yet. I wait with bated breath.

Apologies for the short review but to start describing the stories would be to tell them.

Was this review helpful?

Brutal and incredible, like everything by Fernanda Melchor, it paints an unflinching portrait of a Veracruz marked by violence. I'm in awe of her writing and her ability to entangle fiction and the very real stories she's telling. Incredible.

Was this review helpful?

This is Not Miami is a beautiful collection of anecdotes reflecting life in the tumultuous city of Veracruz, Mexico. From murderous mothers, to confused illegal immigrants, this series of stories based on real events spans the breadth of life in this city, a dangerous and terrifying place.

Fernanda Melchor is an exceptionally talented writer and the translation by Sophie Hughes leaves nothing to be desired. The delicate prose draws the reader in, to become lost in the elegant depictions of life in the city. Melchor transports the reader to Mexico and confronts us with devastating beauty and icy terror as she relates the plights of the cast of characters in her stories.

This is non-fiction that reads like fiction and it is spell-binding. I absolutely would recommend this to anybody, thank you to netgalley and Fitzcarraldo for the early access!

Was this review helpful?

I have read Fernanda Melchor's 'Hurricane Season', and have not gotten around to 'Paradais'.
While 'This Is Not Miami's shares a lot thematically with 'Hurricane Season', Melchor does an even better job with 'Miami' of making the reader empathize with characters, (in this case real individuals), who are forced to endure a society ravaged by psychopathic narcos. Most are just caught in the maelstrom.
I especially loved the essay retelling Melchor's ex-husband's Devil House story. For someone who claims to not believe in any supernatural phenomena, Melchor writes like a seasoned horror film writer.
A brilliant read from start to finish, will be recommending in my shop

Was this review helpful?

Readers who liked this book also liked: