Translated by Frances Riddle
The slums of Buenos Aires, the government, the mafia, the Virgin Mary, corrupt police officers, prostitutes, transvestites, thieves, drug dealers, cumbia music and debauchery all combine in this sweeping novel deemed to be a ‘revelation for contemporary literature’ and ‘pure dynamite’ (Andrés Neuman, author of Traveller of the Century & Talking to Ourselves, Pushkin Press).
Slum Virgin tells the larger-than-life story of Cleopatra, a transvestite who renounces prostitution after the Virgin Mary appears before her. Following the divine messages she receives, Cleo takes charge of the shantytown she lives in, transforming it into a tiny utopia. Ambitious journalist Quity knows she’s found the story of the year when she hears about it, but her life is changed forever once she steps into the shantytown and finds herself irrevocably seduced by the captivating subject of her article.
The densely-packed, fast-paced prose, which weaves together everyday speech, shantytown slang and classical references, pulls the reader into the story immediately. The author turns phrases with dexterity, refusing to whitewash the reality of the poor and downtrodden, and jumping deftly from tragedy to biting comedy in a way that has the reader laughing out loud.
Slum Virgin was shortlisted for the Silverio Cañada Memorial Prize at the Gijón Detective Week (Spain) and chosen as book of the year by Rolling Stone magazine (Argentina) in 2009.