Some writers who invoke fairy tale do it for the trance-like rhythm and rich symbolism, some do it for the thrill of recognizing an old story retold, for the sheer necromancy of it. But the best authors use it to talk about story itself. They do it because they are obsessed with what we’re really doing when we draw a narrative frame and call something a story. This is exactly what is happening in The Taiga Syndrome ... It’s hard to make out the roots and branches of Garza’s literary family tree. There is something of Borges in her combination of detective story, dizzy philosophy, and dream logic. Then, too, her use of language and her treatment of a woman’s self-narration becoming madness reminds me deeply of reading Claire-Louise Bennett’s Pond. Of course, The Taiga Syndrome wasn’t available in English when Bennett was writing Pond, and besides, there’s something darker and queasier and more universal in Garza’s vision. It seems that she really might have a new way of telling, as The Taiga Syndrome’s narrator would say, the truth.
It is difficult to do justice to the formal and genre complexity of this work in a review ... The book is conceived as a multisensory experience, and perhaps the only complaint I have regarding this edition is that it does not have the abstract melancholy drawings that illustrator Carlos Maiques contributed to the Spanish version. They are not indispensable, but they provide an additional dimension of atmosphere ... In bringing The Taiga Syndrome to English-language readers, Levine, Kana, and Dorothy are performing the rare task of providing readers with one of the most exciting examples of literary experimentation and radicalism in Mexico ... Readers of this book will encounter one of the most fiercely original literary voices from Latin America, and will, I think, join those of us who already admire Rivera Garza and excitedly anticipate more of her theoretically rich, aesthetically audacious work in English translation.
... a beguiling, mind-bending take on the relentless pursuit of lost love ... Garza’s style can be sparse and startling, as with many opening lines of the various sections ... Elsewhere it is wonderfully poetic, dense as her boreal landscape ...
Through her powerful command of language, she eases the reader into her nightmarish fairytale ... [a] slippery gem of a book ... translated with a wonderfully light touch ... the short sections have a compulsive quality, even as the reader feels lured into the taiga themselves. The setting is atmospheric and frequently disconcerting ... ll this and more comes through in Rivera Garza’s expressive prose. From murderous lumberjacks, to astute wolves, to feral little boys, this is a short novel whose multiple stories stay in the memory long after reading.
Like the best speculative fiction, it follows the sinuous paths of its own logic but gives the reader plenty of room to play. Fans of fairy tales and detective stories, Kathryn Davis and Idra Novey, will all find something to love. An eerie, slippery gem of a book.
Rivera Garza’s extraordinary, incantatory novel... is short but stunning, following a semi-retired detective on the trail of her client’s second ex-wife, who abandoned him for a younger man ... As lyrical as a poem... and as fantastic as a fairy tale, Rivera Garza’s gorgeous, propulsive novel will haunt readers long after it’s finished.