Working Woman by Elvira Navarro

Working Woman by Elvira Navarro

Spanish fiction

Original title –La trabajadora,

Translator – Christina Macsweeney

Source – personal copy

Another of the writers that were on the first Granta best Spanish writer list(note there is a new edition out if it is half as good as the first as there have been so many great writers from the first list) . Elvira Navarro studied philosophy at university and has written six novels and a number of collected stories. She has won many prizes for her writing. She is known for her innovative writing making her one of the leading writers of her generation most of her novels have been translated into English. This is the first book I had read from her.

Then one fall day, Fabio turned up. He was Mexican, thpough no would have guessed it, given his Irish looks. I had kind of an obsession with anything blond{She made a vague gesture, like a Thompson gazelle lying in wait for a camera in a wildlife documentary. I was about to say something, but..} One day my psychoanalyst said I was looking for the child I used to be all the blond men I fell in love with. A second shrink, Jungian this time came out with the idea that I worshipped the Ayran race{I looked at the floor, if susana wanted to beleive her, these ridiculous observations weren’t helping, but on the other hand, the part of me that curiously observed and envied her freedom in constructing an image of herself gave a faint signal of delight, I was accustomed to her exggarations , even to her lies

What is truth is a big part of this book who is real as well !

The book is a story of two roommates Susana and Elisa, Elisa is a copy editor and proofreader that has seen her job shrink and has had to move to a smaller place and then even couldn’t make ends meet she takes in Susana as her roommate. So she has left the center of Madrid and had to move to the outer suburbs. The book flicks between both their lives as at times we see Susana’s life through the eyes of her roommate as she writes down her roommate’s stories. What we see are to women struggling with their lives mental health is touched on the loss of dreams the struggle of life as the two are drawn Elisa is a lost soul as she wanders the town the graveyard both actual and the left behind abandon house half-built dreams in the dead of night. Susana an artist is making maps out of clippings and pieces of the local area. It is a story that sees you at the limit of what is life a woman on the edge is there even two women is Susana a sort of creation for Elisa to live out her fantasies in a way Susana is described in such a way she seems too good to be sometimes !! Is it a friendship or just a dream this is where Navarro does well to tread a line that as a reader you are never sure? Add to that all a relationship with a dwarf !!

Becoming an indepedent contractor had been the first step. Then they started getting behind with my paychecks, only making them promptly when i complained. They used to say this courtsey- meeting their obligations- was a sign of how much they valued me. When winter came around, I hadn’t been paid for two months, and I’d started without much success, testing the waters at other publishing houses.I wirker till late on galleys that left me without the slghtest desire to read to go on looking at the screen, and then I’d need to get outside , walk and have a couple of beers.

The tough publishing world has woirn her down and seen her move out of the city

When I saw on the back cover that Lina Meruane had called her disturbing and had an eye for the unusual I was drawn in and her novel seeing red I loved. This is a story of two women or is it one woman Elisa is failing in her job as she is working on editing a memoir she has a psychiatric condition which she is trying new meds is this all an illusion is Susana a character created to comfort her to inspire her with her tiny maps and her being the opposite of Elisa or is she real. Navarro has drawn the two roommates so well as at times the story goes between them and at times Susana’s story is told by Elisa. Not the easiest read it sees how easy it is for us to all fall into despair and a downward spiral. I do wonder if Navarro is a soft cell fan with the whole dwarf side story reminded me of the song of theirs from the 80s sex dwarf! Have you read her ?  which book would you recommend next?

Winstons score – -A near-perfect gem from a talented writer.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lisa Hill
    Jul 17, 2021 @ 03:38:32

    Reply

  2. kimbofo
    Jul 17, 2021 @ 04:56:12

    Sounds intriguing, Stu, but I’ve read so many novels about young women struggling financially, emotionally and mentally lately that I’m in the mood for reading something very MALE! Lol. Navarro sounds like an interesting writer though so will add her to my list of writers to explore. Thanks for your review.

    Reply

  3. 1streading
    Jul 17, 2021 @ 10:26:46

    I have copy of The Happy City (pleased to see Lisa recommend it!) and I really must read that before getting this one, great as it sounds!

    Reply

  4. BookerTalk
    Jul 19, 2021 @ 20:58:16

    I was getting more and more interested as I read your thoughts on this book – but then I got to the reference to the dwarf. Is this an actual character or something in their imagination?

    Reply

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