Not a River: A Novel (Paperback)

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Not a River: A Novel By Selva Almada Cover Image
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Staff Reviews

The jungle-like air is thick and stifling when three friends arrive at their favorite weekend getaway: camping, drinking, and fishing on a fairly remote island surrounded by a slow, lazy river. The men are wound up and careless. One of the island's village leaders is strung tight even before the fishermen arrive. Two terse encounters between the visitors and residents build palpable tension, which finally explodes at an evening dance in the village. Almada's slim novels pack wicked, well-earned earned punches at men behaving badly. This is her best work yet.

— Kay Wosewick



It’s not a river, it’s this river.

A hot, motionless afternoon. Enero and El Negro are fishing with Tilo, their dead friend’s teenage son. After hours of struggling with a hooked stingray, Enero aims his revolver into the water and shoots it. They hang the ray’s enormous corpse from a tree at their campsite and let it go to rot, drawing the attention of some local islanders and igniting a long-simmering fury toward outsiders and their carelessness. It’s only the two sisters—the teenage nieces of one of the locals, Aguirre—with their hair black as cowbird feathers and giving off the scent of green grass, who are curious about the trio and invite them to a dance. But the girls are not quite as they seem. As night approaches and tensions rise, Enero and El Negro return to the charged memories of their friend who years ago drowned in this same river.

As uneasy and saturated as a prophetic dream, Not a River is another extraordinary novel by Selva Almada about masculinity, guilt, and irrepressible desire, written in a style that is spare and timeless.

About the Author

Selva Almada is the author of Brickmakers, Dead Girls, and The Wind That Lays Waste. She is considered one of the most potent literary voices in Argentina and Latin America.

Annie McDermott is the translator of a dozen books from Spanish and Portuguese. She was awarded the Premio Valle Inclán and her translation of Brickmakers by Selva Almada was shortlisted for the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation.

Praise For…

“In this potent novella from Argentine writer Almada (Brickmakers), the killing of a stingray sets off a series of fateful events along an unnamed South American river. . . . Like a dream, this otherworldly tale lingers in the reader’s mind.”Publishers Weekly

“A virtuoso literary work. . . . Flashbacks and side scenes deepen the story which curls and twines like a thrusting tropical vine through the past, roping in sisters, wives, old lovers, boyhood adventures, and jealousies.”—Annie Proulx

“Told with the hallucinatory atmosphere of a dream, this astonishing, stark novel doesn’t turn away from the hypnotic and disturbing effects of violence. The title reads like a refusal in a nightmare, as we round the bends of our present lives and resist the inevitable encounter with the past. Not a River plunges us straight into the depths of its silences, bracingly so—the longer the quiet goes, the more terrible the rupture.”—Manuel Muñoz

Product Details
ISBN: 9781644452851
ISBN-10: 1644452855
Publisher: Graywolf Press
Publication Date: May 7th, 2024
Pages: 104
Language: English