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.
Despite the devastation 2020 has wrought, one bright spot is the publication of some stellar queer literature. And 'stellar' is a perfect word to describe Juli Delgado Lopera’s debut novel ... Funny, irreverent, and deeply moving with its pitch-perfect rendering of the kaleidoscopic emotionality of the character, Lopera proves to be a master of crafting and inhabiting Francisca’s voice–and her heart. The prose is also bilingual, in English and Spanish, a much-needed approach to writing about not only immigration but life itself in America. This country is a multi-lingual one, and it is past due that our literature reflects this ... While this is a story of reckoning with grief, there is plenty of sunshine to be found in these pages ... Dripping with sweat, hating, and loving the experience of being alive, feeling a heartbeat and another heartbeat and a rhythm in the world that pulses through your own blood and bones: this is the stuff of a great queer novel.
... 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.