Hurricane Season

Fernanda Melchor

Translated by Sophie Hughes

French paperback with flaps, 232 pages | Paperback, 232 pages
Winner of an English PEN Award | Shortlisted for the 2020 International Booker Prize | Published 19 February 2020

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The Witch is dead. After a group of children playing near the irrigation canals discover her decomposing corpse, the village of La Matosa is rife with rumours about how and why this murder occurred. As the novel unfolds in a dazzling linguistic torrent, Fernanda Melchor paints a moving portrait of lives governed by poverty and violence, machismo and misogyny, superstition and prejudice. Written with an infernal lyricism that is as affecting as it is enthralling, Hurricane Season, Melchor’s first novel to appear in English, is a formidable portrait of Mexico and its demons, brilliantly translated by Sophie Hughes.

New York Public Library Books of the Year 2020 | Guardian Books of the Year 2020 | Observer Books of the Year 2020 | Lithub Books of the Year 2020 | Morning Star Books of the Year 2020 | The Arts Desk Books of the Year 2020 | PRI Books of the Year 2020 | Jezebel Books of the Year 2020

‘This is the Mexico of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian or Roberto Bolaño’s 2666, where the extremes of evil create a pummeling, hyper-realistic effect. But the “elemental cry” of Ms. Melchor’s writing voice, a composite of anger and anguish, is entirely her own.’
— Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal

‘A brutal portrait of small-town claustrophobia, in which machismo is a prison and corruption isn’t just institutional but domestic, with families broken by incest and violence. Melchor’s long, snaking sentences make the book almost literally unputdownable, shifting our grasp of key events by continually creeping up on them from new angles. A formidable debut.’ 
Anthony Cummins, Observer

Hurricane Season is a Gulf Coast noir from four characters’ perspectives, each circling a murder more closely than the last. Melchor has an exceptional gift for ventriloquism, as does her translator, Sophie Hughes, who skillfully meets the challenge posed by a novel so rich in idiosyncratic voices. Melchor evokes the stories of Flannery O’Connor, or, more recently, Marlon James’s A Brief History of Seven Killings. Impressive.’ 
Julian Lucas, New York Times

‘I found it impossible to look away. Hurricane Season unfurls with the pressure and propulsion of an unforeseen natural disaster, the full force of Melchor’s arresting voice captured in Sophie Hughes’ masterful translation.’
Lucy Scholes, Financial Times

Hurricane Season is, first and foremost, a horror story – its horror coming from rather than contrasting with the lyricism of Melchor’s prose…. Melchor’s kaleidoscope keeps circling around the untold source of the horrors, and we are increasingly keen to unveil it. This is an effect of the structure of the novel as much as of its writing. Sophie Hughes’s translation renders the expansive, punishing spirit of Mexican slang so impressively that one wonders whether the harsher sounds of English in fact suit the novel better.’
— Emmanuel Ordóñez Angulo, New York Review of Books

‘Fernanda Melchor’s deep drill into violence, femicide, homophobia and misogyny, translated with considerable verve and force by Sophie Hughes and longlisted for this year’s International Booker, is based on the real-life killing of a “witch” outside Veracruz. It’s a mystery novel, but not one presented in any manner to which we’re accustomed; a horror novel, but only metaphorically; and a political novel with deep penetration of a remarkably foul milieu…. You close the book every so often, feeling that you have learned too much. Though there are glitters of humour and empathy, Hurricane Season is an uncompromisingly savage piece of work: difficult to escape from, built to shock. Yet it’s also elating. I was left buoyed up by Melchor’s anger, elated because she had shown me things I needed to be faced with.’
— M John Harrison, Guardian

‘The novel does not, nor should it, tell us how to act. Instead its terrible beauty carves a wound, painful enough to startle us out of our complacency.’
— Los Angeles Review of Books

‘Fernanda Melchor’s Hurricane Season is so strange, wild, and foul-mouthed that I almost missed the sharp critiques embedded in the story. A mix of drugs, sex, mythology, small-town desperation, poverty, and superstition, this novel spreads like a fungus from the dark center of the literary space where crime fiction and horror meet. Melchor is the witch and this novel is a powerful spell.’

‘Reading Fernanda Melchor’s novel Hurricane Season is a bit like entering the natural disaster of its title, with sweeping paragraphs, lashing sentences, and scenes of breathtaking ferocity. Sophie Hughes’s formidable translation of the difficult text (originally published in Spanish in 2016) immerses the reader in a world of linguistic and material violence on Mexico’s Gulf Coast…. Melchor’s novel makes clear how the dehumanization of the worker is linked to the profit-seeking imperatives of corporations.’ 
Julie A. Ward, Los Angeles Review of Books

‘Structurally adventurous … Hurricane Season has the power at times to mesmerise.’
New Statesman

‘Brutal, relentless, beautiful, fugal, Hurricane Season explores the violent mythologies of one Mexican village and reveals how they touch the global circuitry of capitalist greed. This is an inquiry into the sexual terrorism and terror of broken men. This is a work of both mystery and critique. Most recent fiction seems anaemic by comparison.’
— Ben Lerner, author of The Topeka School

‘Fernanda Melchor has a powerful voice, and by powerful I mean unsparing, devastating, the voice of someone who writes with rage, and has the skill to pull it off.’
— Samanta Schweblin, author of Fever Dream

Hurricane Season is a tremendously vital piece of work. Searing and urgent and cut through with pain, this is storytelling as reportage; a loud memorial to the unheard victims of a society in crisis. Fernanda Melchor and Sophie Hughes have achieved something remarkable here.’
— Jon McGregor, author of Reservoir 13

‘Propelled by a violent lyricism and stunning immediacy, Hurricane Season maps out a landscape in which social corrosion acquires a mythical shape. This masterful portrayal of contemporary Mexico, so vertiginous and bewitching it pulls you into its spiritual abyss from the opening page, is brilliantly rendered into English by Sophie Hughes. Fernanda Melchor is a remarkable talent.’
— Chloe Aridjis, author of Sea Monsters

‘A bravura performance, teeming with life and fury. Melchor takes a single, brutal act and explodes it, giving voice to the legacies of tragedy and violence within, and daring us to look away.’
— Sam Byers, author of Perfidious Albion 

‘Repellent yet compulsive, Hurricane Season is a hell of a force to be reckoned with.’
— Claire-Louise Bennett, author of Pond

‘Not only does Fernanda Melchor write with the violent force that the themes of her investigation demand, but on every page she displays an ear and perspicacity rarely seen in our literature.’
— Yuri Herrera, author of The Transmigration of Bodies

‘Written with pain and enormous skill, in a rhythm at once tearing and hypnotic, Hurricane Season is an account of the wreckage of a forsaken Mexico governed by nightmarish jungle law. An important, brave novel by a writer of extraordinary talent, magnificently translated by Sophie Hughes.’
— Alia Trabucco Zerán, author of The Remainder

‘Melchor experiments with the Latin American NeoBaroque and with European formalism – in the novel, each chapter is sustained in a long paragraph in which sentences only finish when they really and truly can’t carry another clause, articulating a relentless reality in a language openly faithful to that spoken by Mexicans today. Fernanda Melchor isn’t interested in revealing what happened, but rather in providing a way to record what is so hard to articulate.’
— Álvaro Enrigue, author of Sudden Death

‘Melchor wields a sentence like a saber. She never flinches in the bold, precise strokes of Hurricane Season. In prose as precise and breathtaking as it is unsettling, Melchor has crafted an unprecedented novel about femicide in Mexico and how poverty and extreme power imbalances lead to violence everywhere.’
— Idra Novey, author of Those Who Knew

Hurricane Season is menacing, highly original and disturbing – Melchor is unafraid to confront the unspeakable.’
— Nicole Flattery, author of Show Them a Good Time

‘Fernanda Melchor is part of a wave of real writing, a multi-tongue, variform, generationless, decadeless, ageless wave, that American contemporary literature must ignore if it is to hold on to its infantile worldview.’
— Jesse Ball, author of Census

Hurricane Season is an intense and hypnotic literary experience, where physical violence and the hostility of the landscape form a microcosm of helplessness. Fernanda Melchor’s narrative maturity is powerful: a book that leaves you shaken.’
— Mariana Enríquez, author of Things We Lost in the Fire

Born in Veracruz, Mexico, in 1982, Fernanda Melchor is widely recognized as one of the most exciting new voices of Mexican literature. Hurricane Season was shortlisted for the 2020 International Booker Prize and longlisted for the National Book Award. Paradais, her second novel to appear in English, was longlisted for the 2022 International Booker Prize.

Sophie Hughes has translated novels by several contemporary Latin American and Spanish authors, including Laia Jufresa and Rodrigo Hasbún. Her translation of Alia Trabucco Zerán’s The Remainder was shortlisted for the 2019 Man Booker International Prize.