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Booker International Longlist 2022 – Paradais

Paradais  by Fernanda Melchor Translated by Sophie Hughes

Book 8

Reviewed by BookWorm & Rachel

Synopsis from Booker Prize website: Written in a chilling torrent of prose by one of Mexico’s most thrilling new writers, Paradais explores the explosive fragility of Mexican society. Translated by Sophie Hughes.

Inside a luxury housing complex, two misfit teenagers sneak around and get drunk. Franco Andrade, lonely, overweight, and addicted to porn, obsessively fantasizes about seducing his neighbour – an attractive married woman and mother. Meanwhile Polo, the community’s gardener, dreams about quitting his gruelling job and fleeing his overbearing mother and their narco-controlled village. As each face the impossibility of getting what they think they deserve, together Franco and Polo hatch a mindless and macabre scheme.

Rachel’s Thoughts:  I’m not too sure how to review this. Did I enjoy it? No. Would I read it if it wasn’t IBP season? Definitely not.

And yet… it’s so well drawn. You actually feel for these two deeply messed-up teenagers, reaching an uncomfortable understanding of how things unfold as they do. Wealth, class, obsession, loneliness and extreme toxic masculinity all lead to an inevitable end.

Affecting but horrible (there must be a better word!). Melchor is a masterful writer, and this became a page-turner for me. But I’m very happy never to read it again!

Writing quality: 5/5
Originality: 4/5
Character development: 3.5/4
Plot development: 3.5/4
Overall enjoyment: 0.5/2
Total: 16.5/20

BookWorm’s Thoughts: Based on the description and having previously read Hurricane Season if this this was not a Booker book I would not have picked it up. It is a Booker book. I did pick it up. I didn’t hate it.

This book has literally no likeable characters they all seem to be horrible people but as we are taken deeper into their worlds we can perhaps begin to understand why they are the way they are. That categorically does not mean I agree with anything they do.

Being completely honest this reminded me of a J G Ballard novel set on a Mexican complex instead of a European tower block. The characters have different issues but end up with the same kind of way of dealing with life. An interesting contrast showing how having everything you want (Ballard) and having nothing (Paradais) both lead to outrageous behaviour.

Writing quality: 3/5
Originality: 3/5
Character development: 2/4
Plot development: 4/4
Overall enjoyment: 1/2
Total: 13/20

Rankings
Elena Knows 18.25
Books of Jacob 18.25
Cursed Bunny17.17
Heaven 16.5
Happy Stories, Mostly 16
Phenotypes 16
Paradais 14.75
After the Sun 11.33

Have you read this one? Let us know your thoughts

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