by Fernanda Trías (trans. Heather Cleary)
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Pub Date 10 Aug 2023 | Archive Date 4 Aug 2023
Winner of the Uruguayan National Literature Prize for Fiction, the Bartolomé-Hidalgo Fiction Prize, and the Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Literature Prize.
A port city is in the grips of an ecological crisis. The river has filled with toxic algae, and a deadly ‘red wind’ blows through its streets; much of the coast has been evacuated as the wealthy migrate inland to safety, leaving the rest to shelter in abandoned houses as blackouts and food shortages abound.
The unnamed narrator is one of those who has stayed. She spends her days trying to disentangle herself from the two relationships that had once meant everything to her, and looking after the young boy who’s been placed in her care. As the world in which they move becomes smaller, she reflects on the collapse of the other emotional ties in her life and the emergence of a radical yet tender solitude.
With striking prose and vivid characters, the multi-award-winning Pink Slime offers profound reflections on motherhood, marriage, and caregiving, set against the backdrop of a crumbling city.
‘This distressing and emotional science-fiction novel that tells the story of how an inexplicable plague destroys a city … The collapse of the food supply, bodies, feelings, and the system is narrated with a heartbreaking beauty.’ – Jordi Carrión, The New York Times
‘[T]his ominous novel predicts a universe similar to the one that began with the pandemic, one charged with contradictory uncertainties, and it acts like a potential environment where the author can take her obsessions to the extreme and once again consolidate the oppressive and suffocating form that stands out in all of her work.’ – Leonor Courtoisie, Latin American Literature Today
'Pink Slime is a powerful novel — short phrases, unusual poetic twists, the attachment to human ties as a reason to overcome chaos, the insistence of love over heartbreak despite everything. An extraordinary dystopian novel. Highly recommended.’ – Gioconda Belli, author of The Country Under My Skin
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 14 members
Oh absolutely yes. I had a good feeling about this book and Fernanda Trías has not disappointed me. After reading The Rooftop this month I was even more excited to read this because I felt like Trías was really good at evoking strange and claustrophobic atmospheres and that is exactly what she does here but on a much larger scale.
Pink Slime is about a town where a strange plague has emerged from infected algae in the water, and the “red wind” it brings causes people to contact a horrible skin disease and die a slow and painful death. The narrator is living in an apartment all by herself, surrounded by the fog brought on by the change in climate and visiting her ex husband who is sick and in one of the chronic care units. She is also looking after a boy for a rich family who for some reason don’t want to look after him themselves (kind of reminded me of Still Born at these parts) and visiting her increasingly spiralling mother who lives across town.
This is a very slow moving book where nothing much happens but I was absolutely sucked into it and I felt as though I couldn’t stop reading. It’s not a book where you get answers but like The Rooftop it explores the idea of paranoia, claustrophobia and being cut off from the outside world. I felt like the translation by Heather Cleary is one of the reasons I loved this so much as she has also translated Brenda Lozano, and a lot of the writing felt similar.
I cannot wait to see what Trías has to show us next as I’m so intrigued by how her brain works and what she has to say about loneliness and the human condition when it’s left to descend into depravity. Another real triumph for Latin American horror.
At just over 200 pages this can easily be read of an afternoon and/or bring you out of a reading slump.
The novel is written from the POV of a woman who remains in her home town following an ecological crisis. There is toxic algae in the water and the residents shelter themselves from an intermittant 'red wind' that can peel skin to the muscle.
Small and mighty. I enjoyed the themes of loneliness, isolation and fear as well as the the narrators reflections on relationships with others. I really liked how it centred in on these relationships, life choices, and how we treat each other, as I think most of us would in such an event.
I found the narrators relationship with her mother particularly moving and, if you're anything like me, there will be multiple times that you'll want to underline or comment against the text.
Huge thanks to @netgalley and @scribe_uk for sharing a copy with me.
Thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for my free digital ARC in exchange for a review!
If you were a fan of more understated dystopian fiction novels like Severance by Ling Ma and Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel, you’ll definitely want to look out for Pink Slime by Fernanda Trías when it hits UK shelves on 10th August!
Translated from the Spanish by Heather Cleary in absolutely gorgeous, seamless prose, this muted piece of Uruguayan fiction had me gripped despite its distinct lack of plot. The atmosphere Trías creates is exactly what I want from disaster fiction - fuelled by unease, unsettling in the fact that it’s so believable. This was originally published in 2020, and I think Trías wrote the bulk of it before the pandemic hit, but it ends up drawing eerie parallels between the real life catastrophe unfolding.
The ecological disaster in Pink Slime is unnamed, but people must stay inside when the siren sounds as that means the ‘red wind’ is coming - a grisly phenomenon which strips the skin from anyone caught in it. The unnamed narrator adjusts to this new life in her coastal town, slowly emptying as more well off inhabitants flee inland. She remains behind, caring for a boy with an unnamed disorder (which makes him insatiably hungry), paid well by his upper class parents. The critique of how global events affect people who have money differently isn’t in your face but it’s impossible to miss.
I loved the claustrophobic effect of seeing a large-scale disaster unfold through the lens of just one woman. Her everyday worries over the boy in her charge, her mother (whose behaviour grows ever more erratic) and her ex-husband who is in hospital inflicted with the disease but somehow not dead (admittedly this was the only part that left me scratching my head a bit, it didn’t feel fully explored) remain, even as she navigates the increasingly hostile new landscape of her city.
I know lots of us might not yet feel comfortable engaging with pandemic fiction, but I highly recommend this unsettling little gem!
This was an amazing and haunting novel which was set in a small seaside town. It sounds all cute and wonderful and get the town has been ravaged by this skin disease which has came from the sea, and it’s caused this red wind to blow through the town and if you get caught in this wind then you get this skin disease which causes you a slow and painful death. The main character goes and visits her ex husband and her mother who live by themselves who she helps take care of, as well as looking after this young boy who has an eating disorder where he binges his food and feels like he doesn’t eat enough. His real parents don’t want to look after him so our protagonist is paid to look after him.
This book is about claustrophobia and being cut off from the world. It’s a slow book but it just makes you think about life and what it would be like being cut off from the world with this deadly disease that no one knows how to cure or what it even is. We just watch the mental health of our protagonist slowly decline and become more secluded on herself.