S. Fischer, August 2018
Shortlisted for the German Book Prize 2018
An evocative portrait of the spectral atmosphere hovering over Buenos Aires on the eve of a political coup. Buenos Aires, 1974. People have flocked to the neighborhood of Ballester from across the globe and put down roots. Twelve-year-old Teresa practises liberation theology and carries around a plastic Madonna from door to door to dispense protection. The autoshop is a hotbed of utopian thought. Men follow the news with bated breath, and the local hairdresser loses his mind over the President’s death. The people of Ballester listen to the voices of the dead, sing songs, and celebrate life. Yet political turmoil, violence, and an encroaching military dictatorship soon turn the country into a deeply sinister land. Those wanting to survive must find a vision to cling to.
In virtuosic prose, the Argentine author María Cecilia Barbetta tells the story of how soaring dreams can illuminate dark times.
María Cecilia Barbetta was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1972 and grew up in Ballester, the neighbourhood in which this novel takes place. She studied German as a foreign language and received a DAAD scholarship in 1996 to come to Berlin, where she has remained ever since. Prior to the appearance of her first novel, she received the Alfred Döblin fellowship from the Akademie der Künste in 2007 and participated in the renowned prose writers’ workshop at the Literarisches Colloquium Berlin. Her first novel, ‘The Los Milagros Tailor Shop’, was published in 2008, and was awarded prestigious debut novel prizes, including the Aspekte Prize for Literature and the Adelbert von Chamisso Prize. She received a fellowship for a residence at the Villa Massimo in Rome in 2013. In 2017, she was awarded the Alfred Döblin Prize for the manuscript of her second novel, ‘Nightglowing’. María Cecilia Barbetta writes in German and lives in Berlin.