|Author:||Iosi Havilio (Author) , Lorna Scott-Fox (Translated by)|
When José’s job goes up in flames, literally, at the fireworks factory, he is at a loss. In a funk, he suddenly finds himself without purpose or motivation. His wife Laura suggests that she goes back to work at the publishing company and leave him to care for their young daughter and home. At first, José feels undermined by his new status, but he quickly falls into the swing of his new role as a domestic star - setting himself cleaning goals and garden projects. As he flourishes, Laura, forced into a more minor role at the publishing company, becomes increasingly embittered and trapped in her job, and this is only further aggravated by Antonia’s increasing rejection of her mother as their daughter gravitates towards José as the primary caregiver. One of the garden projects requires a spade, something that the couple do not possess. One evening, invigorated by his new passions, José knocks on Guillermo’s (the neighbour's) door to borrow a spade. Invited in, a friendship strikes up between the two, and they start to spend Thursday evenings together, drinking and listening to jazz. Guillermo is a jazz obsessive and, as the evening goes on and the drinks go down, he becomes excitable and increasingly animated until José draws the night to a close, often abruptly, with his new found ‘talent’ - a talent so utterly surprising to the reader the first time it happens you will wonder what you have stepped into. Iosi Havilio’s Petite Fleur (named for a jazz piece which is Guillermo’s favourite - he has 125 different recordings) is a lively, macabre and sharply witty portrayal of domestic suburbia, both its bliss and its terrible suffocation. José is a study in paranoia, perfection and obsession - along with odd lapses into clumsiness and childish impulses. As a reader, you will wonder how reliable our narrator is. His clichéd love of Russian literature (Tolstoy), his unwise erotic fantasies and his seeming unconcern for others make José an intriguing character - one whom you want to follow, even when he is repellent. His talent, violent and guiltless, will leave you reeling beyond the last sentence.
Description: When his fireworks factory job ends explosively and his wife returns to work, Jose is surprised to realise he has a talent for keeping house: childcare, tidying, cleaning, cooking, gardening, he excels at it all. On Thursdays, he hangs out and drinks good wine with his jazz-loving neighbour. But when Jose's new talents take a sudden and gruesome turn, life, death, resurrection, and domesticity unexpectedly converge. In one single, hypnotic paragraph, Petite Fleur harnesses the unpredictability of Aira and the mysticism of Tolstoy in a discordant riff on suburban life.
Review: Praise for Petite Fleur: 'As vertiginous, airtight and intense as a dream.' Yuri Herrera ---------- 'You'll read Petite Fleur in a single sitting, carried along by the lively rhythm and a wacky plot leavened by a blend of darkness and cruelty. We don't often come across this kind of novel, a drama played for laughs.' Le Figaro ---------- 'An absolute masterpiece.' Marie Claire (France) Praise for Iosi Havilio: 'Iosi Havilio's remarkable first novel brings news of an intriguing world' Martin Schifino, The Independent ---------- 'An ambiguous tale that verges on dark comedy ... With skill and subtlety, the novel hints that a whole society might labour under an illusion of liberty.' The Economist ---------- 'A haunting tale set in the aftermath of an apocalypse ... Iosi Havilio has caused a literary storm in Argentina' Amanda Hopkinson, The Independent ---------- 'Look out for the much-praised Iosi Havilio.' Boyd Tonkin, The Independent ---------- 'Deliberately unshowy, so that plot twists can unfold in the quietest ways.' Fatema Ahmed, Prospect ---------- 'With minimalist beauty and exquisite strangeness, Iosi Havilio offers a mesmerising addition to the literature of solitude.' Chloe Aridjis ---------- 'Havilio's passion lies with the powerless. An inexhaustible stream of eccentric, believable characters, the down-and-out, downtrodden marginal citizens of Buenos Aires, parades through his fiction.' Nick DiMartino, Shelf Awareness ---------- 'This surreal novel is both dense enough and short enough to warrant re-readings and will especially appeal to fans of the TV series Twin Peaks.' Publishers Weekly
Author Biography: Iosi Havilio (b. 1974 Buenos Aires) became a cult author in Argentina after his debut novel Open Door was highly praised by the outspoken and influential writer Rodolfo Fogwill and by influential Argentine critic, Beatriz Sarlo. Petite Fleur is his fourth novel. Lorna Scott Fox is a journalist, editor and translator who has lived all over the world. She has written for the London Review of Books, the TLS and the Washington Post, translated many books from French and Spanish, and edited Yuri Herrera's Signs Preceding the End of the World.