A woman guerilla fighter in an unnamed country in Latin America works to keep her daughters safe in the wake of war and political trauma—and tries to reconnect with one she had given away to a family in France.
... immersive novel, superbly translated ... Using stream of consciousness and indirect speech, she creates a vivid sense of multiple voices overlapping and interrupting each other. Slash and Burn is undoubtedly a challenging read, as we have to unpack a layered narrative, but it is a brilliant evocation of civil war and its bitter legacy—the invisible scars, distrust, exploitation and the personal and political vendettas that persist long after the peace accord is signed.
... an ember of a novel. Originally published in Spanish, this restrained narrative about a mother’s sacrifice surges with hot undercurrents of danger and memory ... Ultimately, Slash and Burn is an unflinching meditation on girlhood and womanhood. The compañeras-in-arms within its pages ask few favors, preferring to toil with honor rather than fall prey to the disappointment of broken promises. In this slow burn, Hernández ferries her characters across oceans for the common purpose of finding home—an as-yet-unnamed possibility.
... remarkable ... Slash and Burn’s namelessness...points to the pervasion of fear, suspicion, and what cannot be openly articulated in a country at war ... This law of silence, or fear to speak, is conveyed expertly by Hernández’s sparse prose, its arms-length third person indirect narration, which seems to hold the reader at a distance from events, not quite welcoming them in as a trusted confidante ... the translation requires multiple descriptors to distinguish between the protagonist’s four daughters ... This technique works brilliantly at making visible the connections between characters, highlighting the familial, relational, and political ties that bind any society, and the ripple effects of war’s consequences beyond its immediate protagonists. Yet, as a literary device it also creates an often confusing narrative where it can be difficult for the reader to make out which daughter is the subject at any one time ... This ambiguity though is obviously Hernández’s point. The persistent anonymity of the novel indicates how it refuses to completely fulfill the testimonial impetus or fully endorse the idea of healing through storytelling after conflict ... Rather than simply commenting on what cannot be said during war, Slash and Burn is a commentary on the ongoing silences and continuation of violence even long after the signing of a peace agreement, which was supposed to consign violence to the past and usher in a new era of peace, democracy, and prosperity.