A slim and eminently readable iteration of the genre, delivered in the disarming voice of a feckless novelist turned house husband ... The two met at a literary festival, kept in flirtatious touch, and have seen each other a couple of times. The occasion of the novel is a further reunion, for which Lucas has high hopes ...With an insouciance greater than that of Spiotta’s intense Sam, Lucas makes light of his travails, and the novel feels, even at its darkest, almost like a comic romp; but Mairal gives his character the gift of frankness, and in his uncomfortable admissions and meandering reflections, Lucas, too, comes to accept the limits of his agency and the ineluctable force of reality. Midlife once again proves to be about compromise, and the freedom that comes with resignation.
Into this brief novel, Mairal fits the humor and pain of being human, especially male, fully on display. In vivid prose that turns grotesque moments sublime, as in the description of Lucas’ flight of fancy while he pees in a filthy public restroom, this is a luminous and witty work of literary fiction.
In the hands of a writer less skilled in nuanced storytelling, The Woman from Uruguay could have been a tired tale of a man in the midst of a mid-life crisis, led astray and ultimately made a fool by his baser instincts. But in his latest novel, celebrated Argentinian writer and poet Pedro Mairal works through the familiar trope of bungling male sexual desire to reflect more philosophically on the nature of intimate relationships, and the ways in which we can so perniciously lose our individualism in the connections we form. The result is a tender meditation on desire and the fragility of the human heart, translated elegantly by Man Booker International winner Jennifer Croft.