Paradisesmight be a reimagining of Camus’ Outsider – but in female form and living in 21st-century Buenos Aires. Our narrator allows the hazards of death and chance encounters to lead her through the city, where she sleepwalks into a job in the zoo’s reptile house and administers morphine to one of the oddball residents of the squat that she and her young son move into. Is this life in the shadows, an underworld of cut-price Christmases, drugs and dealers, or is this simply life? And why do snakes seem to be invading every aspect of it?
Paradises returns to the enigmatic female characters of Havilio’s first novel, Open Door– and has already been highly praised by Beatriz Sarlo, perhaps the most influential critic in his native Argentina. Thoughtful, yet unafraid of squalor or the perils of insecurity, this is a voice for right now, obliquely critical, grimly comic.