Focus on Hurricane Season - International Booker Prize 2020

Large 9781913097097

The International Booker Prize is awarded every year for a single book that is translated into English and published in the UK or Ireland. It aims to encourage more publishing and reading of quality fiction from all over the world and to promote the work of translators.

The full shortlist of six titles can be found here, but in this series of articles we will look at each title in detail.

Hurricane Season

The Witch is dead. After a group of children playing near the irrigation canals discover her decomposing corpse, the village of La Matosa is rife with rumours about how and why this murder occurred.

As the novel unfolds in a dazzling linguistic torrent, Fernanda Melchor paints a moving portrait of lives governed by poverty and violence, machismo and misogyny, superstition and prejudice.

Written with an infernal lyricism that is as affecting as it is enthralling, Hurricane Season, Melchor’s first novel to appear in English, is a formidable portrait of Mexico and its demons, brilliantly translated by Sophie Hughes.

Birmingham Mobile Library Service Reading Group

About the group

Three times a year or more whenever possible, the Mobile Library Service Reading Group meet at the Library of Birmingham. The group is made up of 12 adults from across Birmingham. Books are selected by Jackie using Birmingham Libraries vast selection of stock — we really do like reading any genre, and love trying books out of our comfort zone. Jackie co-ordinates the books and group, making sure that everyone gets their books at the library stop they visit. All Reading Group members fill out a review sheet for each book and these are then typed up ready for the meeting. We also have a blog and keep in via email, on Twitter (@bhammobilelib), Facebook and WhatsApp. Anyone can join at any of our Mobile Library stops across the city.

Thoughts on the book

In normal times the Mobile Library Reading Group would have met at Library of Birmingham, had a chat over tea, coffee and biscuits, discussed their favourite read at the moment, discussed our book group reads and got into a heated discussion about Hurricane Season, but these are not normal times. So we have discussed Hurricane Season in a different way, via emails, via phone calls, via the power of WhatsApp. We found that WhatsApp group calls are a great way of talking together, we now regularly message each other about what we are reading, we all love emojis !!!

We all agreed that Hurricane Season was a difficult challenging read for all of us, but no one doubts the exceptional skills and talent of Fernanda Melchor and Sophie Hughes. Our overall thoughts are the books target audience may be a young adult – the sexual and violent content is not what a more mature reader wants in a book (we are not speaking for all mature readers).

We do all feel very privileged and honoured to be able to read for the International Booker Prize, and would be absolutely thrilled if Fernanda Melchor won!!

Quotes from the Birmingham Mobile Library Reading Group…..

  • In front of you is the fiction, detailing lives too desolate even to be despaired of, hopelessness and grinding poverty. The only choices to be made in their lives to solve problems are all desperate, end of game, no choices, and yet, the language can also be beautiful and lyrical, a testament also to the incredible feat of translation by Sophie Hughes.
  • But it is a truly astonishing work!
  • Highlights the lack of acceptance for LGBT people within these smaller/isolated communities.
  • A relentless reading journey that you really don’t want to take but are compelled to try.
  • A challenging and memorable read.
  • If you finish this book it leaves you devastated, disgusted and depressed for a long time afterwards.
  • I’m very glad I managed to read this book as at every page turn I wanted to stop, it’s a necessary but not a nice read.
  • 😪😢😩😪😬🥺🤮😱🤬😶

Get involved

Have you read Hurricane Season? Do you want to know what other readers thought? Leave your own review online.

Want to know more? Download a Readers’ Guide for Hurricane Season, including information about the author, as well as some discussion notes and themed reading.

Find out about the other books on the shortlist.

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