When I first heard about Juliana Delgado Lopera’s debut novel, Fiebre Tropical, I was ecstatic. Someone, it seemed, had experienced the same thing I had and wrote a novel about it, and did it in the captivating, riotously funny, code-switching, foul-mouthed voice of Francisca ... a bold, stylistic, and deeply moving examination of generational sadness, deferred desire, and the budding seeds of personal revolution that is entirely their own ... Lopera avoids the easy answer...and her ending suggests that Francisca is bound to make more than a few false starts before finding a path that works for her, but throughout Fiebre Tropical I was struck by the confidence her narrator possessed.
... the prose is as ebullient and assertive as Rosie Perez’s shadowboxing in the opening credits of Do the Right Thing ... Lopera pushes this novel’s idiomatic language into English and then Spanish, to bold and farcical effect ... The way to write a novel, Jim Harrison once said in The Paris Review, is to 'just start at Page 1 and write like a son of a bitch.' That’s what Lopera has seemingly done in Fiebre Tropical. You can open this novel anywhere and find sunbeams, the signs of a writer who is grinding their own colors ... There are moments in Fiebre Tropicalwhen one begins to wish for more structure, for a stronger sense of narrative inevitability. A nimble voice can only take you so far. Then, around this novel’s midpoint, something valuable happens. We pivot backward in time to observe Francisca’s mother and grandmother when each was 15, and more than a little bit wild ... There is a feeling of coming full circle.
Tropical fever, indeed! Award-winning Lopera presents a new and uniquely charming voice in this stream-of-consciousness novel ... As she narrates the story of her desperation and her awakening, Francisca’s voice is engaging and lyrical, effortlessly code-switching from English to Spanish in a completely natural way—often within the same sentence. Lopera’s internalized tale explores the complications of family, immigration, faith, and taboo love with fresh and compelling directness.