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.
... a wrenching story of three generations of women including an ex-guerrilla combatant and her four daughters, all unnamed ... While initially challenging, the series of nameless female narrators, nameless places, and indirect speech render a certain universality and anonymity to the characters, and, coupled with the crystalline descriptions of postwar devastation, the technique dramatically underscores the horrific context of Cold War–era civil wars in Latin America, from the ever-present threat of rape and murder by marauding soldiers during the conflict to the present-day tension and distrust. Multilayered and consistently engrossing, Hernández’s knockout novel is not to be missed.