In the jungle, dreams and nightmares coexist
Colombia’s Pacific coast, where everyday life entails warding off the brutal forces of nature. In this constant struggle, nothing is taken for granted. Damaris lives with her fisherman husband in a shack on a bluff overlooking the sea. Childless and at that age “when women dry up,” as her uncle puts it, she is eager to adopt an orphaned puppy. But this act may bring more than just affection into her home.
The Bitch is written in a prose as terse as the villagers, with storms―both meteorological and emotional―lurking around each corner. Beauty and dread live side by side in this poignant exploration of the many meanings of motherhood and love.
I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher in return for an honest review.
The expression in the female dog’s eyes, on the book cover, captures the essence of this book. There’s a sense of hopelessness and inevitability. The puppy adopted by Damaris becomes the focus of her existence. When she chooses freedom over devotion, Damaris feels cheated. This emotion darkens and turns to hate with a terrible outcome.
Full of disturbing imagery, the scenes of cruelty and despair are harrowing to read, but they resonate.
An essay on deprivation, poverty and the position of women in society, this story is a stark reminder of what’s wrong in the world.
Pilar Quintana lives in Colombia. She debuted with Cosquillas en la lengua in 2003, and published Coleccionistas de polvos raros in 2007, the same year the Hay Festival selected her as one of the most promising young authors of Latin America. Her latest novel, The Bitch, won the prestigious Colombian Biblioteca de Narrativa Prize, and was selected for several Best Books of 2017 lists, as well as being chosen as one of the most valuable objects to preserve for future generations in a marble time capsule in Bogotá. The Bitch is the first of her works to be translated into English.
This book has been selected to receive financial assistance from English PEN’s Writers in Translation programme supported by Bloomberg and Arts Council England. English PEN exists to promote literature and its understanding, uphold writers’ freedoms around the world, campaign against the persecution and imprisonment of writers for stating their views, and promote the friendly co-operation of writers and free exchange of ideas.
Each year, a dedicated committee of professionals selects books that are translated into English from a wide variety of foreign languages. We award grants to UK publishers to help translate, promote, market and champion these titles. Our aim is to celebrate books of outstanding literary quality, which have a clear link to the PEN charter and promote free speech and intercultural understanding.