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Belletrista - A site promoting translated women authored literature from around the world


Edited by Susan E. Benner and Kathy S. Leonard
Translated from the Spanish by Susan E. Benner and Kathy S. Leonard
Reviewed by Akeela Gaibie-Dawood

Imagine you knew that Death would come for you on your next birthday, precisely at the time that you were born. Would you try to cheat her out of claiming you? The characters in one of the many fabulous short stories in this anthology, certainly did, and did so most resourcefully.

This anthology was published to introduce readers to a set of immensely talented women writers from the "forgotten" and rarely translated South American countries, Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru. Their voices reverberate with richness and variety, and the 24 stories reveal a range of creative, entertaining and completely delightful storytelling.

Many of the stories deal with the real struggles women face in these often deprived societies, where women have routinely suffered huge social, educational and political obstacles. One story, entitled "The Señorita didn't teach me," by Bethzabé Guevara, is a moving account of a 10-year-old girl who wants nothing more than to be educated but is deprived by her incompetent and abusive teacher. On examination day, she and her 48 classmates decide to rebel publicly against the abuse and neglect, with dire consequences.

Some of the stories break with the mould of oppressed and dejected women and offer hope. Alicia Yánez Cossío's "The Mayor's Wife" is about a woman disparaged by her husband's overt infidelity and the hysterical fury and tumultuous emotion she initially experiences. Once she applies her mind to her circumstances, this inspired woman emerges strengthened, emboldened and much the wiser for the experience.

This prized volume includes award-winning stories and some of the most celebrated literary icons from South America. The writings are resonant, vivid and powerful, and readers who enjoy global writing will appreciate having this book in their libraries. It includes a substantial biography of each of the writers with a comprehensive bibliography of each writer's primary works, as well as secondary sources about the author and other women writers from the Andean region. Most of the writings in the bibliography are in Spanish, but English references have been provided where they exist.

Compliments are due to the translators who have done a sterling job. This anthology brings home the rich diversity of talent on the South American continent and makes one want to read more—purely to relish the luxurious talent emanating from there.

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