Ariana Harwicz – Feebleminded (Translated by Annie McDermott and Carolina Orloff) (4 stars)

Ariana Harwicz – Feebleminded (Translated by Annie McDermott and Carolina Orloff)

Lyrical and provocative fiction from the Argentinian author

Feebleminded follows Ariana Harwicz's Die, My Love which was longlisted for the Man Booker International 2018. As part of what the author describes as an 'involuntary trilogy', there is certainly a similarity in the violence of the prose and extremity of emotion. Feebleminded is the story of a mother and daughter drinking, laughing, fighting and courting the darkest kind of ruin.

Harwicz is already a big name in contemporary Argentinian literature and this is Feebleminded's first outing in English translation. It's a novel with no sugar coating where you're immediately thrust into a stream of consciousness that is both slightly bewildering and undeniably powerful. The prose is uncompromising and the distinction between character dialogue often hard to distinguish. Fittingly, for a book that interrogates unhealthy relationships and blurred boundaries, even the protagonist is hard to define: 'Now I'm a mass of nocturnal birds. Now I'm an impossible horrible wonderful night. Now, a hollow avalanche.'

The book's complex lyricism makes its sudden stabs of clarity all the more vicious and there's a feeling of exhilaration in receiving these hard-won insights. Without a great focus on plot, readers will be left feeling that they, like the characters, are being driven towards an inevitable crescendo. If you're looking for fiction that challenges and provokes, leaving you occasionally frustrated and slightly destabilised, Feebleminded is for you.

Out now via Charco Press.