RaveTimes Literary Supplement (UK)... articulating tenderness and regret alongside shame and rage ... The frequent shifts from \'you\' to \'she\' aren’t always easy for a reader to follow, but they convey a woman in motion, alive, as if tracked by a restless lens. Tash Aw’s sensitive translation captures the vividness of Louis’s voice: light, yet recursive in a way that propels us forwards, even as it describes suffocating repetition ... Movingly, the book demonstrates the pain that moving from one social class to another entails ... It is difficult to write candidly about a living family member with whom one is on good terms. At times I missed the unchecked anger of The End of Eddy (2017). In its place a tender recognition of the loneliness of class transition emerges, the cost of having given up what is known for what is possible. As a remedy, Louis risks sentimentality in admitting his desire to build for his mother a home in words. Almost like a character in a fairy tale, Monique eventually finds her way to Paris, and even smokes a cigarette with Catherine Deneuve ... At times the text veers into manifesto ... But perhaps Louis is wrong to suggest that literature cannot be political in an indirect way. Stories do inspire shifts in political consciousness, hitting us somewhere deeper than the intellect. To say that a woman has been destroyed by inequality gives us a fact; to demonstrate it is powerful. The richest moments of the book show us personal agency reacting with and against systemic forces, as when mother and son, in a daze of futile hope, send cheques in answer to a marketing letter offering a chance to win €100,000. Lurking under the book’s fairy-tale surface is a nuanced account of desire and belonging, a careful analysis of the tribalism that can keep us tethered to what wears us down, especially when that tribalism is a response to conditions that make class mobility impossible for so many ... treads familiar ground ... Édouard Louis’s excavation of the violence of class, gender and sexual inequality is worth repeating, and it may be a life’s work.
Fernanda Melchor, Trans. by Sophie Hughes
RaveLos Angeles Review of BooksIt is perhaps Melchor’s willingness to explode a violent act into multiple perspectives, to look at it again and again from different angles (perpetrator, bystander, accomplice) that makes Hurricane Season feel weightier than most contemporary fiction. This is a novel that sinks like lead to the bottom of the soul and remains there, its images full of color, its characters alive and raging against their fate ... there is a breathlessness to the prose, a break-neck rhythm, as if the characters were desperate to say as much as possible before our attention moves elsewhere. We feel the rhythms of this village, with its prostitutes on the highway, its men who work the oil fields, its women who run the fondas. We hear the rustle of the cane fields. We are made to bear witness, to be a living part of this world ... There is something horrifically timely, too, about reading Hurricane Season in the early days of 2020...as newspapers continue to report on asylum seekers at the US border, held in deplorable conditions, many of whom are fleeing gang violence, domestic abuse, child rape, and femicide ... The novel does not, nor should it, tell us how to act. Instead its terrible beauty carves a wound, painful enough to startle us out of our complacency.