Shantytown

“Shantytown” by César Aira (Argentina)

Review

There were mixed reactions to this novella-length story with some readers finding it charming and magical, while others described it as strange or unusual, and one reader liked it the least of all the books she’d read so far in the book club. At 160 pages, everyone agreed it was a quick and easy read. They loved the descriptions of the Shantytown with its carousel-like layout and the mysterious tangle of streetlights kept blazing by pirated electricity. Readers noticed a marked difference in rhythm: from the slow plodding start, resembling the movement of the protagonist, Maxi, to a more frenetic pace halfway through, with the final scene of the deluge reaching biblical proportions! They described the characters as larger than life, even cartoonish, and appreciated the humour especially in the melodrama of the final scenes. Overall, it averaged a 7.4 out of 10.

Synopsis

Maxi – a middle-class, directionless ox of a young man who helps the trash pickers of Buenos Aires’s shantytown – attracts the attention of a corrupt, trigger-happy policeman who will use anyone (including two innocent teenage girls) to break a drug ring that he believes is operating within the slum… Read more

Nicola’s Book Club reading list

Season 21 (Oct 2017 – Feb 2018)
“Embers” by Sandor Marai (Hungary)
“Human Acts” by Han Kang (South Korea)
“Into the Beautiful North” by Luis Alberto Urrea (Mexico)
“Lyrics Alley” by Leila Aboulela (Sudan) *
“Shantytown” by César Aira (Argentina)

* The book club favourite
In italics, Nicola’s Coup de Cœur

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