The book is beautifully translated. Cleary advisedly leaves in Spanish terms ... The biggest success of Witches is the way she weaves together two distinct voices ... Though the book chronicles violence against women and those who present as women, it highlights, in both rural and urban communities, an atmosphere of freedom and mobility that is a pleasure to read about.
With surprising swiftness, Paloma’s murder fades to the background ... The first-person narration of Witches is digressive and intimate. We feel as though Zoe is speaking directly to us, and Feliciana directly to Zoe. And it’s a testament to both Lozano’s mastery of voice and Cleary’s translation that our two narrators’ voices feel immediately distinct and immersive. Feliciana’s voice is especially idiosyncratic, at first hard to follow, then, with time, poetic in its fluidity ... A wonderfully illuminating translator's note ... At the start of Witches, Zoe promises us a reckoning, a revelation. It never quite materializes. Early on, she says her conversation with Feliciana has transformed her perspective, though by novel’s end it remains unclear exactly how — the connective tissue between their two stories is tenuous, their symmetries never fully teased out ... Witches is a novel, not a piece of reportage, and on the whole Lozano doesn’t so much make critiques as gesture toward them ... Despite all this, Witches sets the ideal stage for Lozano to prove herself as a master of character study. Zoe’s chapters are particularly compelling ... While the precise nature of Zoe’s epiphany, and the role of Feliciana as facilitator, is still nebulous by novel’s end, the overarching theme feels crystal clear. It is, to put it crudely, that women should do — or at least try to do — precisely what they want, no matter the external pressures, expectations, or barriers they face. It’s not exactly a groundbreaking idea, sure, but it is, throughout Witches, quite elegantly illustrated.
Witches is grounded in the perspectives of two women and how they come to locate their own sources of power. Lozano deftly captures these two very different women’s voices as they tell their stories in alternating chapters ... At times it feels that the novel has missed some opportunities for more external action. The actual interaction between Feliciana and Zoe remains somewhat underdeveloped as the story circles instead through each woman’s past. Yet in its final pages, the novel achieves a kind of incantatory power, enacting the alternate forms of knowing that the book is celebrating. In a concise and very insightful forward, the translator, Heather Cleary, reflects upon her choices to leave certain words in Witches untranslated. Cleary’s note functions as a helpful introduction to the text that also serves as a skillful précis about the intersections of language and power with patriarchy and colonialism ... Cleary’s skillful translation of Lozano’s text offers English readers the possibility to read this beautiful novel and contemplate its multiple insights into the nature of language, gender, and power.
Witches weaves together two parallel narratives that delve deep into the lives of two very different women who live in the same country but inhabit different worlds. This vivid novel, translated from the Spanish by Heather Cleary, almost reads like two separate novellas tied together loosely by one narrative point, but the very different voices and the lives of the two main characters make it work ... More than a novel with a standard narrative arc, Witches tells the story of Feliciana and Zoe, exploring the most significant events of their lives and chronicling the decisions and experiences that shaped them ... While this is a book with two separate stories and two main characters, it possesses a central idea that gives it a sense of cohesion ... Witches is about magic, healing, and how your experiences affect they way you process trauma. Lozano is a keen observer who brings two very different worlds to the page with vibrant passages and a lot of heart. Work in translation is crucial because it opens doors to other places, ideas, identities, and cultures, and that’s what this novel accomplishes very well.
The women's stories dovetail, with echoing experiences of sisterhood, motherhood, purpose and gendered violence. These elegant streams of consciousness ripple with tantalizing figurative language, eddying together as they flow into one refreshing river of a novel ... Translator Heather Cleary begins the book with a compelling note on terms she chose to keep in their original language ... it is heartbreak that this novel seeks to guide readers beyond, becoming itself a healing, meditative space to confront the cruelties of the world.
Regardless of public scorn and physical danger, Feliciana and Paloma defy gender norms to tread the paths they know to be right for them. They are both bound by their devotion to their crafts, and by how their unique—and, as Feliciana believes, God-given—talents help others. Their connections make their stories so powerful ... a glorious novel about gender-nonconforming people who brave a hostile world to be themselves.
Lozano published the original version of this novel amid a cultural crisis in Mexico as fury over femicide reached a crescendo. Translator Cleary has made a Herculean effort to craft an equivalent experience for English readers to offer 'a chance to connect across and through differences' in the spirit of Lozano’s memorable tale.
There is little traditional plot but instead two overlapping narratives that merge and converge in unexpected ways. Zoe’s straightforward narrative contrasts with Feliciana’s, which features long, elliptical sentences and many repeated phrases, and the significance of some events mentioned frequently in passing only become clear toward the end ... Beautifully rendered, this is a book to meditate over and perhaps reread.
Layered ... The author alternates between Zoe’s urbane narration and transcriptions of her interviews with Feliciana, whose elliptical and mystical language makes for a sharp contrast ... Lozano does a wonderful job distinguishing the disparate characters and their fluid identities, and Cleary’s translation strikes the perfect balance of immersion and clarity. Powerful and complex, this marks a new turn from an intriguing writer.
Lozano eschews traditional narrative for the discursive pleasures of voice ... A sensitive, informative translator's note explains that Feliciana is loosely based on a Oaxacan curandera internationally famous in the 1950s and '60s. A fascinating immersion into a little-known world, written with tenderness and humanity.