Argentinian writer Selva Almada explores violence and masculinity in rural Argentina with this tale about two patriarchs in the brickmaking trade. Although they are rivals, their teenage sons have fallen in love, and other family members get caught in the drama.
Almada is forceful in her depictions of sex, violence, and rage. I feel her prose in my body: a punch in the gut, the sharpness of glass. McDermott’s translation captures the bite of Almada’s sentences, which render both tenderness and violence with devastating clarity ... Almada’s novel illustrates the physical toll machismo takes on everyone: men, women, children, and families. But Brickmakers also celebrates women who are strong, who bear up their families on their backs, because they have to. Because there is no other choice.
... intense, eloquent ... not a conventional murder mystery—it is a picture of the destructive power of machismo on the indigenous men and women of this community ... a vivid group portrait ... Annie McDermott’s new, highly readable translation makes Almada’s superb 2013 novel available for the first time to Anglophone readers. It is bound to make the reader hungry for more of Almada’s award-winning work.
... 200 relentless, galloping pages ... Almada nods to [the] cowboy tradition—the Wild West’s counterpart in the Southern Cone—even as she upends and dissects it. This succinct and pulsating revengers’ tragedy (which the publishers compare to William Faulkner) shows the masculine flip-side to Dead Girls. Almada doesn’t need to use words like patriarchy, machismo or homophobia. Here, ideas crystallise into pure, hard-driving narrative that leaves no space for editorialising ... In other hands, this archaic catastrophe might sound corny or portentous. But such is Almada’s command of shape and pace, and the clean-edged vigour of the style McDermott voices with such skill, that we take Brickmakers on its own uncompromising terms—as pulp, tragedy and epic all at once. In this scorched soil, death grows where men’s love—for themselves, their women, their children, for each other—never can.