Men exist on the periphery, but these are women-led and women-focused stories. It creates a sanctuary effect; the things shared in the stories will stay between the characters and the reader. The dialogue is strong, ordinary without being boring. Much occurs beneath the surface of transactional interactions—a phone call, an exchange on the street, a business letter from New York—which kept me on my toes, on the lookout for hidden meaning ... This subtlety also betrays the book’s weakest facet: sometimes the dramatics of a scene are not played up correctly, or at all, which left me wanting ... Translator Heather Cleary clearly pays homage to the original Spanish in her translation; words not traditionally used in English, yet which are common in Spanish, remain peppered throughout the work. Furthermore, her translation blends so seamlessly with the writing that most of the time it is easy to forget this is a work in translation ... Throughout the book, Ospina manages to address themes of control, intrastate conflict, and women’s bodies while keeping her reader inside the story. The book never abandons the narrative to explain what is happening or why. Variations on the Body assumes we know about the ongoing war in Colombia, what a carrefour is, and are familiar with doll-repair shops. But Ospina’s descriptions, when she utilizes them, are vivid; Fauna of the Ages is wholly dedicated to communicating to the reader the singular agony of battling against flea bites ... An excellent example of a first book of fiction, Variations on the Body personalizes hardship through concrete individual actions, asking more of its readers with every sentence.
... powerful ... undoubtedly timely as a poignant portrait of people on the margins whose bodies are trapped in space and time. While that may sound like science fiction, Ospina shows how real these experiences are, and she challenges everyone to empathize.
Ospina writes pointedly about the ways that trauma manifests in the female body. Violence is ever present in this collection, but it haunts the background, existing mostly in the space of the unsaid or understated. Meanwhile, Ospina attentively follows her characters as they move through the mundane tasks of everyday life, in the imperfect bodies they’ve been given.