This Is Not Miami

Fernanda Melchor

Translated by Sophie Hughes

French paperback with flaps, 160 pages
Published 10 May 2023

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Set in and around the city of Veracruz in Mexico, This Is Not Miami delivers a series of devastating stories – spiralling from real events – that bleed together reportage and the author’s rich and rigorous imagination. These crónicas – a genre unique to Latin American writing that blends reportage, narrative non-fiction and novelistic forms – probe deeply into the motivations of murderers and misfits, into their desires and circumstances, forcing us to understand them – and even empathize – despite our wish to disdain them as monsters. As in her hugely acclaimed novels Hurricane Season and Paradais, and once again brilliantly translated by Sophie Hughes, Fernanda Melchor’s masterful stories show how the violent and shocking aberrations that make the headlines are only the surface ruptures of a society on the brink of chaos.

‘The result is an absorbing, compassionately rendered portrait of a place, its people and its ills. The stories are punctuated by brief but telling allusions to the material conditions that sustain the moral degradation she describes: police corruption, social security cuts, prison overcrowding, unscrupulous building contractors. Melchor’s macabre aesthetic has shades of gothic horror, but she is a Dickensian at heart.’
— Houman Barekat, Sunday Times

‘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

‘Time spent with her writing leaves no doubt: the unholy noise she creates is the work of someone who knows exactly which notes to hit.’
— Chris Power, Guardian

‘Don’t get too hung up on what exactly This Is Not Miami is, though, and you’ll find its world filthy, disquieting and compulsive.’
Pippa Bailey, New Statesman

‘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

‘She isn’t holding a Stendhalian mirror up to Mexican society; she’s dissecting its body and its psyche at the same time, unafraid of what she might find…. In Melchor’s world, there’s no resisting the violence, much less hating it. All a novelist can do, she seems to suggest, is take a long, unsparing look at the hell that we’ve made.’
— Juan Gabriel Vázquez, New Yorker

‘In addition to bravely presenting dark truths, Melchor writes from a good heart…. Melchor makes her point (not without sorrow and gruesome humor), then gets out of the way, so that her subjects can speak.’
— William T. Vollmann, New York Times

‘Melchor isn’t inventing anything in broad strokes…. She’s not playing with facts so much as how facts are delivered – oral history, first person, second person, ghost story, legend. A lesser journalist massages details to more perfectly fit a narrative. Melchor is doing something more like the opposite: playing with form to expose the lies, hypocrisies, hatreds and oversights that soften or avoid the reality of human evil. Melchor isn’t claiming to know the whole story. But what she means to say is that we should think twice before we do as well.’
— Mark Athitakis, Los Angeles Times

‘Skillfully translated by Hughes, this is a book that’s as gorgeous as it is dark, and it proves that Melchor is one of the finest writers working today. Absolutely stunning.’
Kirkus starred review

‘Melchor resists the seductive burden of explaining the realities (or exaggerations) of such non-European regions in blistering, true-crime detail. Though based on real events, these relatos are decidedly not journalistic, and not even realist. Melchor’s prose blooms under that strange light.’
Lisa Yin Zhang, Frieze

‘Translator Sophie Hughes has performed another heroic feat in rendering Melchor’s winding sentences into breathtakingly stylish English. These stories, packed with dismembered limbs and immolation, are not for the faint-hearted, but Melchor’s writing offers a special, twisted kind of beauty.’
Michael Delgado, i News

‘In finding a narrative for those who are rarely given literary or any other kind of airtime, and in writing in a vernacular that acknowledges the cruelty that lurks in the language of neutral observation, Melchor writes a new kind of folklore that allows us to hear the ferocious reality of contemporary violence.’
Jess Cotton, Jacobin

‘Seamlessly translated by Sophie Hughes from the initial Spanish, This Is Not Miami is a compelling read. However, be warned; these tales may well devour your dreaming.’
Annie Hayter, Big Issue

‘In a country where corruption runs rampant, where the official story from the police or the government is tainted, inadequate, or missing altogether, This Is Not Miami functions as a counternarrative: Melchor presents a corrective simply by getting close to her subjects and telling their stories one by one, often in their own voices.This Is Not Miami makes clear just how grounded the heightened drama of Hurricane Season and Paradais is. The connections between Melchor’s fiction and nonfiction go beyond the subject matter – poverty and superstition, misogyny and sexual violence – and include how a story can be corrupted as it passes from person to person.’
Laura Adamczyk, The Nation

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 translates Spanish and Latin American authors. She was shortlisted for the International Booker Prize in 2019 and 2020, and in 2021 she was awarded the Queen Sofía Translation Prize.