Nonfiction by Alia Trabucco Zerán, trans. Sophie Hughes
April 5, 2022 • 5 x 7.75 • 248 pages • 978-1-56689-633-7
A genre-bending feminist account of the lives and crimes of four women who committed the double transgression of murder, violating not only criminal law but also the invisible laws of gender.
When Women Kill: Four Crimes Retold analyzes four homicides carried out by Chilean women over the course of the twentieth century. Drawing on her training as a lawyer, Alia Trabucco Zerán offers a nuanced close reading of their lives and crimes, foregoing sensationalism in favor of dissecting how all four were both perpetrators of grievous violent acts and victims of another, more insidious kind of violence. This radical retelling challenges the archetype of the woman murderer and reveals another narrative, one as disturbing and provocative as the transgressions themselves: What makes women lash out against the restraints of gendered domesticity, and how do we—readers, viewers, the media, the art world, the political establishment—treat them once they do?
Expertly intertwining true crime, critical essay, and research diary, International Booker Prize finalist Alia Trabucco Zerán (The Remainder), in a translation by Sophie Hughes (Hurricane Season), brings an overdue feminist perspective to the study of deviant women.
About the Author
Alia Trabucco Zerán was born in Chile in 1983. She was awarded a Fulbright scholarship for a master’s in creative writing in Spanish at New York University, where she wrote her debut novel La Resta (The Remainder). La Resta won the prize for Best Unpublished Literary Work awarded by the Consejo Nacional del Libro de Chile, and was shortlisted for the Man Booker International in 2019. It has been translated into seven languages. Las homicidas is her second book. She lives between Santiago and London.
About the Translator
Sophie Hughes is a British translator of Spanish-language writers such as Alia Trabucco Zerán, Fernanda Melchor, and Enrique Vila-Matas. She has been nominated three times for the International Booker Prize, and is a recipient of the Dublin Literary Award, the Valle Inclán Translation Prize, the National Book Award in Translation, the PEN Translation Prize, the National Translation Award in Prose, and the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction.
Praise for When Women Kill
“A vital and beautifully written book. . . . Equal parts essay, detective story, diary, and feminist discourse, its most moving and brilliant moment may be when Trabucco Zerán dramatizes the only case not yet depicted in art: the portrait of a new Medea, tragic and unsettling, but more than that, transgressive, hungry for another life.” —Giuseppe Caputo
“An outstanding work of archival research. Trabucco Zerán incorporates her diary into her investigation. A smart, rigorous, and necessary book.” —Liliana Colanzi, El País
“This essay turns a stark gaze upon the condition of women in Chile in the last century.” —Nona Fernández
“When Women Kill is a magnificent work of creative nonfiction: provocative, intelligent, and moving. In it, Alia Trabucco Zerán makes use of her talents as a writer and researcher to reconstruct the complex stories of four women accused of violent crimes in the twentieth century. The result is a masterful and pertinent account full of humanity and emotion.” —Fernanda Melchor
“This brilliant essay paints a cogent and unsparing portrait of the rhetorical operations of the patriarchy.” —Lina Meruane
Praise for The Remainder
Kirkus, Best Fiction of 2019
Kirkus, Best Fiction in Translation of 2019
Shortlisted for the 2019 Man Booker International Prize
Vanity Fair, “Best Books of 2019”
Entropy, “Best of 2019”
“A lyrical evocation of Chile’s lost generation, trying ever more desperately to escape their parents’ political shadow.” —Man Booker International Judges
"This novel is vividly rooted in Chile, yet the quests at its heart—to witness and survive suffering, to put an intractable past to rest—are universally resonant." —Publishers Weekly
“A centrifugal story of death, history, and mathematics . . . a debut that leaves the reader wanting more.” —Kirkus
“You could call The Remainder a literary kaleidoscope: look at it one way and you see how the past lays a crippling hand on the generation that follows political catastrophe; shift the focus and you’re plunged into a darkly comic road trip with a hungover trio in an empty hearse chasing a lost coffin across the Andes cordillera.” —The Spectator
“While writers such as Pedro Lemebel and José Donoso have explored the regime’s impact on those who lived through it, Zerán is concerned with the next generation. Felipe, Iquela and Paloma are the children of ex-militants, attempting to “unremember” the past in Chile’s haunted capital, Santiago.” —TIME
“The second-generation trauma narrative gets a Chilean spin in Zerán’s intense novel of interior monologues, which is Faulknerian in themes, structure, and style.” —Vulture
“A mesmerizing, roaming look at intergenerational trauma, told in a specific and surreal style that shimmers and shifts on the page and in the mind.” —Nylon
“Truly stunning, full of deft turns of phrase. . . . Shines especially bright when unwinding Felipe’s melodic monologues.” —Los Angeles Times
“Deeply compelling.” —The Guardian
“A haunted novel, awash with sinister and elegiac moods. It stands as a testament to the way the past can unsettle us.” —Star Tribune
“Neither the characters nor the narrative ever deal directly with the historic events themselves, but rather with the fallout – the photographs, vocabulary, places and people left behind as remnants. Zerán seamlessly alternates between the voices of Iquela and Felipe, highlighting the opposing and gendered ways they have reacted to the circumstances of their childhood.” —The Times Literary Supplement
“The Remainder controls a remarkable range of registers (it is, by turns, lyrical, elegiac, sensual, funny, tragic). The author, like her characters, is obsessed with words, those ‘cracks in language’ that house our particular ways of understanding things. This novel is sure to endure.” —Edmundo Paz Soldán
“A powerful, impressive novel, dotted with scenes that are as unique as they are unforgettable.” —Lina Meruane
“A fundamental book about what it means to mourn the past, about the remainders of a history that refuses to be forgotten. This is the debut we all wish we had written. A spirited, brave, urgent book, capable of weaving the political and the poetic.” —Carlos Fonseca