The wind that lays waste

The wind that lays waste

Novel | Mardulce Editora , 2012 | 168 pages

Published by

France Métailié /Netherlands Meulenhoff/ Brazil Todavía Livros / German Berenberg/Sweden Tranan /USA Graywolf Press/ UK Charco Press – Film rights sold

Winner of the 2019 First Book Award (Edinburgh International Book Festival)

The Wind That Lays Waste begins in the great pause before a storm. Reverend Pearson is evangelizing across the Argentinian countryside with Leni, his teenage daughter, when their car breaks down. This act of God – or fate – leads them to the home of an aging mechanic called Gringo Brauer and his young boy named Tapioca.

As a long day passes, curiosity and intrigue transform into an unexpected intimacy between four people: one man who believes deeply in God, morality, and his own righteousness, and another whose life experiences have only entrenched his moral relativism and mild apathy; a quietly earnest and idealistic mechanic’s assistant, and a restless, sceptical preacher’s daughter. As tensions between these characters ebb and flow, beliefs are questioned and allegiances are tested, until finally the growing storm breaks over the plains.

Selva Almada’s exquisitely crafted début, with its limpid and confident prose, is profound and poetic, a tactile experience of arid landscapes, heat, squat trees, broken cars, sweat-stained shirts, and ruined lives.

The Wind That Lays Waste is a philosophical, beautiful, and powerfully distinctive novel that marks the arrival in English of an author whose talent and poise are undeniable.

Argentinian fiction writer and poet Almada makes her English-language debut with a slender tale redolent of Flannery O’Connor. . . . [The Wind That Lays Waste is] fueled by alcohol, religious symbolism, and doubt. . . . The story packs a punch in its portraits of a man who exalts heaven and another who protests. Kirkus Reviews

Selva Almada burns off all the dross and gives us pure revelation, cryptic and true. Paul Harding, author of Tinkers

The Wind That Lays Waste is a mesmerizing novel, at once strange and compelling. Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of Mothers, Tell Your Daughters