"a form of nonfiction that combines factual reporting with narrative techniques and stylistic strategies traditionally associated with fiction,"
"Careful, there's laundry hanging up ... as if saying those things were like saying dirty words, or worse, as if they were a source of unimaginable shame."
While Dead Girls focuses on "three small-town girls murdered in the 1980s," their stories are set squarely within the wider context of violence against women as she goes on to offer the names and brief stories of others who had met the same fate at the hands of men, as well as the well-entrenched misogyny and commonplace violence that exists throughout the small towns in Argentina's interior. This is not, as she also reveals, a new phenomenon, citing an account in a book that "catches her eye" about the case of a Polish girl from the 1950s who had the misfortune of having a boyfriend who was a "possessive, jealous and violent man."
In her Epilogue, before listing the names of femicide victims who died over the month's time since the "new year began," the author writes that
"In that time, at least ten women have been killed for being women. I say at least, because these are the names that appeared in the papers, the ones that counted as news"
leaving the reader to wonder about the ones who didn't count as news.
As the back-cover blurb says, what she's written here is a "clear-eyed, multi-faceted account that has global resonance." While I recognize the huge importance of Selva Almada's book, at the same time, it's a very difficult book to read on an emotional level. While reading it, I couldn't help thinking of Fernanda Melchior's Hurricane Season -- in both books the authors offer a look into the economic and social conditions in these small towns that help to feed that violence, but also acknowledge that crimes against women are all too often marginalized by the police or the politicians who have the power to change things but allow these crimes to continue.
It's a tough book, but so worth it, and it's one I can very highly recommend. I can also recommend Charco Press, a small but ultimately awesome publisher.