Brickmakers (Ladrilleros)

Brickmakers (Ladrilleros)

Novel | Mardulce editora, Lumen, 2013 | 232 pages

Published by

Argentina Mardulce Editora / Spain Lumen, Penguin Random House / Holland Meulenhoff / France Éditions Métailié / English (USA) Greywolf Press / English (UK) Charco Press

Film rights sold

Pájaro Tamai and Marciano Miranda, two twenty-year-olds, are dying in a deserted amusement park. The story begins almost at its end, just a little after the two main characters have faced off in a knife fight,  the culmination of an enmity that has pitted them against one another since childhood having been bequeathed to them by their fathers, and just a little before their impending deaths.

The present in Ladrilleros is a state of impending death, at moments marked by hallucinations: Marciano is visited by the ghost of his father, who was murdered when he was an adolescent, a father he had sworn to avenge,in a promise he could not keep; Pájaro is also visited, as in a returning nightmare, by his abusive father who disappeared years earlier.

Interspersed among the hallucinantions, which are narrated by an omniscient narrator but from the point of view of each character, a device causes narrator and character to blur, to merge constantly, flashbacks tell the story of the two families, the Tamais and the Mirandas, a story of latent rancor.  Of this rancor as well as of tragedy is born a love between Pájaro and Ángel, the youngest of the Mirandas: a love that saves and damns, which revives the hatred and which, inexorably, leads to death.

A sort of homosexual Romeo and Juliet, Ladrilleros is set in a hostile environment, full of tough, fight-prone, drunken men; of lonely children who grow up any way they can; of passionate, violent, sexual loves; of merciless suns that dry up everything they touch.

Selva Almada reconstructs the experience of a provincial town with extreme accuracy, discovers its rules and recreates its language searching not only for the sonority of the words but also for the complexity of their senses. Martín Lojo, La Nación

Ladrilleros is a more adult book, more literary, more direct than the previous ones. Quintín, Diario Perfil

Ladrilleros: every sentence is a threat; every paragraph, a blowMiriam Molero

Ladrilleros keeps the tension until the end through a simple story with complex characters who are attractive and full of nuances. Página 12

Where does the detachment that makes an author original, novel and lucid, even when she wanders through waters visited before by classical writers such as Onetti, Juan José Saer or the writers from the American South, come from? In Almada, one discovers after reading her without breathing and without knowing her, you find the Onetti who wrote El Astillero y Juntacadáveres, but also the Faulkner of As I lay dying and Sanctuary. Cristián Alarcón, Babelia, El País

Colloquial expression, the popular speech of the region where her stories unfold live side by side with a literary language of enormous elegance and precision. Soledad Platero, El País, Uruguay

What seems fantastical soon turns hyperrealistic, a bit like in the stories of Rulfo or Sara GallardoOliverio Coelho, La Nación, Argentina

Almada examinates a cracked territory, at the south of Juan Rulfo and Faulkner, and she decides to do it with a dry prose, few stylistic flourishes and a neutral tone, almost a non-tone. The fiction, her story is too savage. Alberto Gordo, El Cultural 

In her realism of magical repercussions, Onetti and the Borges of El Sur come together with the inflamed shadow of Horacio Quiroga, but the quality and resolve of her prose produce a power of suggestion that is unique to  Selva Almada. Francisco Solano, El País, Spain

Selva Almada provides in these pages a solid text, brilliant, with a rich vocabulary and a big flight. El Cultural, Spain

A solid story, wonderfully told, that plays skillfully with the best traces of the best names in literature. Juan Laborda Barceló, La tormenta en un vaso, Blog

As in the best novels of Faulkner, Hemingway, Onneti or Vargas Llosa, Selva Almada hides an essencial fact in her narration (…) and that secret information shakes us with a furious discharge. Fernando Iwasaki, El Mercurio

A novel of a violent and tortured lyricism, where the language caresses the verbs and the adjectives with a purified beauty. La voz de Galicia, Spain

In Brickmakers, Selva Almada shows the violent impulses that come to the surface in rural Argentina. From an incisive and cutting writing that softens throughout the narration, the author takes the reader towards a reality in which pain, betrayal and fear turn into everyday nature in the rural universe of her country. Ariane Singer, Le Monde

*The novel’s title alludes to the protagonists’ trade: making bricks in a traditional manner is a fairly common job among the working classes of northeastern Argentina, the setting of the story.