The local witch is found dead in a small town in Mexico. Why this happened, and everything leading up to it, is slowly unfurled by Melchor as she spins this deeply sinister tale of greed and violence, masterfully jumping between characters and viewpoints, widening the scope as the story morphs into something far, far uglier. At the book's heart is a portrait of desperation, one so seemingly inescapable it makes monsters out of so many, and destroys everything that doesn’t succumb to it. Horrifying, stomach churning, and frequently dazzling, it was easily the best book I read in 2020.
The English-language debut of one of the most thrilling and accomplished young Mexican writers
Winner of the Queen Sofía Spanish Institute's Tanslation Prize
Longlisted for the National Book Award
Shortlisted for the Booker Prize
Winner of the Internationaler Literaturpreis New York Public Library Best Books of 2020
Chicago Public Library Best Book of 2020
The Witch is dead. And the discovery of her corpse has the whole village investigating the murder. As the novel unfolds in a dazzling linguistic torrent, with each unreliable narrator lingering on new details, new acts of depravity or brutality, Melchor extracts some tiny shred of humanity from these characters—inners whom most people would write off as irredeemable—forming a lasting portrait of a damned Mexican village.
Like Roberto Bolano’s 2666 or Faulkner’s novels, Hurricane Season takes place in a world saturated with mythology and violence—real violence, the kind that seeps into the soil, poisoning everything around: it’s a world that becomes more and more terrifying the deeper you explore it.
About the Author
Born in Veracruz, Mexico, in 1982, Fernanda Melchor is “one of Mexico’s most exciting new voices” (The Guardian). Her novel Hurricane Season was shortlisted for the International Booker Prize, longlisted for the National Book Award, and was a New York Times Notable Book.
SOPHIE HUGHES has translated numerous Spanish-language authors, including José Revueltas and Fernanda Melchor for New Directions.
Hurricane Season is, first and foremost, a horror story—its horror coming from rather than contrasting with the lyricism of Melchor’s prose. Instead of supplying a welcome breeze in the heat, the local river is where the children find the Witch’s body. Sophie Hughes’s translation renders the expansive, punishing spirit of Mexican slang impressively.
— Emmanuel Ordóñez Angulo - New York Review of Books
Melchor’s English-language debut is a furious vortex of voices that swirl around a murder in a provincial Mexican town. Forceful, frenzied, violent, and uncompromising, Melchor’s depiction of a town ogling its own destruction is a powder keg that ignites on the first page and sustains its intense, explosive heat until its final sentence. — Publishers Weekly
"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 - The Guardian
A dazzling novel and the English-language debut of one of Mexico’s most exciting new voices. — Marta Bausells - The Guardian
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
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
Hurricane Season is a hell of a force to be reckoned with.
— Claire-Louise Bennett
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 an unrelenting torrent of violence, barbarity, recrimination, sex, greed, trauma, corruption, neglect, fear, lust, deceit, baseness, and the insidiousness of evil. The young Mexican author writes with unflinching ferocity and her propulsive prose is simultaneously scintillating and suffocating. Hurricane Season brings to mind other darkly delirious works of (semi)fiction like Rafael Chirbes' On the Edge, Bolano's 2666, or even the novels of Santiago Gamboa. Inspired by a story Melchor encountered in a local newspaper, Hurricane Season offers a testimonial of our increasingly depraved age of disconnection and disposability. A remarkable, indelible work of art.
— Jeremy Garber, Powell's Books
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
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
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
Melchor not only writes with the furious power that is required by the issues
at hand, but on each page she shows that she has an eye and ear for it, as well
as a sharpness rarely seen in our literature. — Yuri Herrera
Mexican writer Fernanda Melchor's subject is the inner life of misogynist violence—for both perpetrators and victims—and the collective mythmaking that sanctions such crimes or makes them disappear... The novel is a Gulf Coast noir from four characters’ perspectives, each circling the murder more closely than the last. All share a connection to the central suspect, Luismi, a dreamy, drug-addled ex-lover of the Witch — who, it turns out, is not some dreadful creature but a trans woman who practices traditional medicine and throws clandestine parties. Their relationship serves as a Rorschach test for Melchor’s narrators, whose actions reveal not only the details of the crime but the fears, resentments and unacknowledged lusts that condense around it like a distorting mist....She creates a narrative that not only decries an atrocity but embodies the beauty and vitality it perverts. Impressive. — Julian Lucas - The New York 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
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 anemic by comparison.
— Ben Lerner
Intertwined voices spiral around the mysterious murder of The Witch in an isolated tropical town, revealing its depravities, secrets, family tragedies, violence, accumulating into a narrative hurricane that howls and devastates but also subsides into renewed light. Hurricane Season—a dark fable that captures the horrors and despair of contemporary Mexico as no other novel has—is already widely regarded as a contemporary Mexican classic.
— Francisco Goldman
Hurricane Season is a potent brew, an incantatory simmer of violence, sin, and envy, a thick, salty, blood-dark drink. Melchor dares her read to peer right into the story's roiling heart as she peels back village lusts and jealousies layer by layer, excavating a monstrous turbulence dwelling beneath, grotesque and darkly beguiling.
— Alexandra Kleeman
Hurricane Season is an intense and hypnotic literary experience, where physical violence and the hostility of the landscape for a microcosm of helplessness. Fernanda Melchor's narrative maturity is powerful: a book that leaves you shaken. — Mariana Enrqiuez
Fernanda Melchor not only writes with the furious power that is required by the issues at hand, but on each page she shows that she has an eye and ear for it, as well as a sharpness rarely seen in our literature. — Yuri Herrera