In Elvira Navarro’s story collection Rabbit Island , dreams and reality blur. The stories are surreal and disorienting, exploring dark and strange corners of the mind ... Of the collection’s eleven stories, the first fits in a realistic mode, but the rest bend the rules of everyday experiences ... The stories are nightmarish, full of people struggling fruitlessly in bad jobs, strained relationships, and inexplicable circumstances ... Navarro’s characters experience fear, regret, and anxiety about a world that’s slipping out of control. Those who attempt to change, or even understand, their environments come to bad ends. Short, declarative sentences that come one after another make the unbelievable seem real. As befits the book’s mood, Navarro resists easy endings, often leaving her characters still struggling, or even in more precarious positions than where they began ... Full of colorful, precise descriptions and sharp insights into the mind and body, Rabbit Island is inventive and atmospheric, arising where the everyday world ends and dreams begin.
The structuralist literary critic Tzvetan Todorov defined 'the fantastic' as a literary genre that hesitates between psychological and supernatural explanations to explain extraordinary occurrences, and Navarro’s work often lives and flourishes in this open space of uncertainty ... The stories in Rabbit Island are beautiful, disquieting, and somewhat unhinged. They are the sort of stories whose narrative logic often defies easy categorization, even as their emotional spell lingers long after reading, like particularly vivid dreams.
... haunting ... One thing that distinguishes Navarro in this genre of social nightmare fiction is that her central characters are almost entirely women — all smart and strong but deeply flawed, and more human for it. For another, she is a master anatomist of class and, particularly, money — both its power and the maddening indignity of its lack ... Like the best work of our modern satirists and fabulists, none of Navarro’s stories is particularly easy to read...But even Navarro’s darkness offers at least a bit of light, however unnatural or perverse.
Elvira Navarro is a deft practitioner of metafiction—writing stories that slither back on and within themselves as they progress—and she’s a virtuoso at triangulating a reader ... The hyper-pronounced sensations that Navarro’s characters experience often communicate the precarity of their balance between reality and delusion ... a gorgeous, unnerving, and scary follow-up for English readers to Navarro’s 2017 translation of A Working Woman, and both books represent a movement of some of the most electric work happening in translation ... Navarro writes in the gritty spirit of Baudelaire ... Dissolution is at near-constant concern in Navarro’s writing, which makes the stakes quite frantic and high.
Spare in pages, Navarro’s collection of 11 short stories proves dense with disconnection, dysfunction, and dismay as families fray, couples sunder, and animals are brutalized ... Set between the seemingly familiar and elusively surreal, Navarro’s tales unsettle readers through oneiric landscapes ... Navarro—adroitly anglophone-enabled by award-winning Christina MacSweeney—distinctly proves her inarguable facility with short fiction.
The stories in Spanish writer Navarro’s arresting collection are set in and around present-day Madrid, but the characters often find themselves in a more surreal terrain ... While some stories feel overly impressionistic, with too little plot, the most daring in the collection are unsettling and memorable. Navarro showcases her ability to lead her characters from relative normalcy into nightmare terrain in starkly elegant prose and with a winking sense of humor.