Set during the sweaty Southern Cone summer months, you’ll never experience a “happy couples’ holiday” with your beloved partner in quite the same way again after reading this! I love the slow build-up of tension and dread in this story, the strangeness of its details (like the disappearing fire glimpsed from an airplane), the A.M. Homes-esque brutality of the narrator towards her irritating husband, and the totally out-of-left-field (yet completely perfect) ending. You can’t have a story about disappearances set in the Río Plata area not seem like a commentary on historical atrocities, but the sly way this piece develops and builds upon this theme, in a way you wouldn’t expect, is utterly singular. I suggest reading this with a caipirinha in hand, bugs crawling over your feet, and plenty of sickly-smelling sunscreen burning your eyes.
My God, is Mariana Enríquez incredible. Things We Lost in the Fire is one of the strongest collections I’ve ever read, and I think this is my favorite story among the twelve on this list. Shirley Jackson fans, you MUST read her! I find the way “The Intoxicated Years” moves through time incredibly moving, as it traces the rise and fall of a friendship between a group of teenage girls in post-dictatorship, late 80s/early 90s Argentina.
From Things We Lost in the Fire, Portobello Books, 2017. Available to read online in Granta here