PositivePloughsharesGuadalupe Nettel’s novel After the Winter, her third book of fiction translated from Spanish into English, is a trenchant, subtle story about two people struggling with companionship and isolation. The novel is narrated in short, alternating chapters by the Cuban-born Claudio and the Mexican-born Cecilia, who tell us about their compulsions and relationships (or lack of relationships). Eventually their narratives intertwine, with surprising results. The novel moves with ease between New York, Paris, Havana and Oaxaca. Nettel, born in Mexico, has spent much of her life abroad, though she’s currently based in Mexico City. Her writing, in an excellent translation by Rosalind Harvey, is spare, occasionally eerie and always elegant. Her investigation of love and solitude, and what these two states can mean, is shaded by her protagonists’ unconventional behavior, contributing to the novel’s distinctive exploration of its age-old subjects and its moving interplay of humor and sadness.