Pedro Mairal, born in Buenos Aires, dropped out of school at 18 and followed his passion for reading and writing. He would spend all day in the cafeteria absorbing the works of Borges, Salinger, Neruda and others. He viewed it as a way to learn the tricks and secrets of writing. He compares the skill of telling a story without giving every detail to a Picasso painting.
Picasso created a piece where he drew a single detailed flower surrounded by scribbles and lines, which then let the admirer imagine the vase of flowers on their own. Pedro does this with his words. He leads you through the story allowing you to pick up on the deeper details. He started as a poetry writer and as his skills grew; he wrote novels and started contributing articles, columns, short stories and scripts. His novel A Night with Sabrina Love received the Clarín de Novela Prize and was later adapted into a film. Publishing five novels (one written in sonnets), two collections of poetry, a volume of short stories and a compilation of his columns its no surprise that he’s considered one of the best Latin American writers. His latest novel La Uruguaya translated into The Woman from Uruguay was published by Bloomsbury in July 2021. It won the Tigre Juan award in 2017, which is awarded to the best Spanish narrative work published in the preceding year.
The Woman from Uruguay follows a day in the life of Lucas Pereyra. Lucas, an unemployed writer, spends his days caring for his son Maiko while his wife works. His suspicions of his wife having a lover in the evenings is only a small hint at their marital unhappiness. When Lucas is offered an advance of fifteen dollars in cash, he begins to imagine it as the solution to his problems, specifically with his wife. Haunted by the memory of a woman he once met in Uruguay at a conference he begins to wonder if they could meet again and start a new life. He leaves Buenos Aires to Montevideo, Uruguay to collect his book advance and possibly discover the beginnings of a new future with a woman he desires so deeply. This beautiful story has you placed inside the mind of Lucas from start to end. You feel his sorrow, his hope, his joy and his panic as the day unfolds in many unexpected directions.
Pedro Mairals writing is intoxicating. He has you completely involved in the story. You are there, immersed, experiencing, watching, and living it with the characters. It becomes clear early in the novel that he started as a writer of poetry, with the imagery he creates. His love of words is obvious, forming such beautiful sentences and analogies. My copy has been underlined all the way through.
The Woman from Uruguay is available now, published by Bloomsbury