In this surreal queer novel, a mysterious woman disrupts the unhappy life of a doctor and forces him to confront the hidden depths of his gender identity.
“How is it possible that someone like me allowed an unknown woman in my house on a stormy night?” asks the narrator of Mexican writer Rivera Garza’s (No One Will See Me Cry, 2003, etc.) second novel to be translated into English. The unknown woman at the door claims to be Amparo Dávila, a major Mexican fantasy and horror writer from the 1950s and '60s. Dávila insinuates herself into the narrator’s life, weaving a fractured story of a conspiracy that resulted in her disappearance—and a precious stolen manuscript. To the narrator's horror, Dávila befriends his spurned former lover, starting up an intimate—and possibly erotic—relationship. The two women devise a secret language he cannot penetrate and, ultimately, reveal the narrator’s deepest fears. "I know you are a woman," Dávila whispers to the narrator one evening. Convinced that the two women are tormenting him on purpose, the narrator sets out to uncover Dávila's secrets so he can be rid of her. His quest leads him through medical archives and the lusty streets of the North City, uncovering doppelgängers and the depths of his own truth. Rivera Garza’s taut language drives the mystery forward, and she plays cleverly with the literary and political histories of Mexico, the importance of queer visibility, and the silencing of female authorship.
An existential gothic tale about the high stakes of understanding—and accepting—the self.