Booker International 2021 – The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enriquez
Booker International Longlist Book 3 rated by panellist Tracy
The Dangers of Smoking in Bed
Translated by Megan McDowell from Spanish
Published by Granta Books
Details from the official Booker Site:
Written against the backdrop of contemporary Argentina, The Dangers of Smoking in Bed is populated by unruly teenagers, crooked witches, homeless ghosts, and hungry women. The stories walk the uneasy line between urban realism and horror, but with a resounding tenderness toward those in pain, in fear and in limbo. As terrifying as they are socially conscious, the stories press into the unspoken – fetish, illness, the female body, the darkness of human history – with bracing urgency. A woman is sexually obsessed with the human heart; a lost, rotting baby crawls out of a backyard and into a bedroom; a pair of teenage girls can’t let go of their idol; an entire neighbourhood is cursed to death when it fails to respond correctly to a moral dilemma.
About the Author
Mariana Enríquez is a novelist, journalist and short story writer from Argentina. As well as THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE and THE DANGERS OF SMOKING IN BED, she is the author of a collection of travel writings, a novella and three novels. In 2019 her latest novel, OUR SHARE OF NIGHT, was awarded the prestigious Premio Herralde de Novela. She is an editor at Página/12, a newspaper based in Buenos Aires.
Tracy’s Thoughts: I’ve said before that I don’t care for short stories. Then someone comes along and makes me question why not. Mariana Enriquez is one of those writers. I’ve read both her books now- this and the excellent Things We Lost in the Fire- and I’m starting to change my mind about short stories.
The stories in this collection are scary- some downright horror, others just disturbing. But they all are engaging and impossible to put down. The story that stuck with me the most is “Kids Who Come Back”, though “Our Lady of the Quarry” was pretty memorable, too.
Her writing style is fresh and her descriptions are just enough to nudge the reader’s imagination toward the right amount of shivers.
For fans of Carmen Maria Machado and Amparo Davila (an amazing author who needs to be translated more), Poe, Shirley Jackson and Steven King- these are smart, literary scary stories.
Writing quality: 5/5
Character development: 3.5/4
Plot development: 3.5/4
Overall enjoyment: 2/2
At Night all Blood is Black 18/20
The Dangers of Smoking in Bed 18/20
The Employees 16/20
Have you read this one? What did you think?