Our Share of Night by Mariana Enriquez (Translated from Spanish by Megan McDowell) - review by J S Barnes

J S Barnes

Midnight’s Children

Our Share of Night

By

Granta Books 736pp £18.99
 

The new novel from the Argentinian writer Mariana Enriquez is a solid piece of publishing which seems at first to exemplify a kind of literary high seriousness. It runs to more than seven hundred pages and has been produced lavishly in hardback by Granta (the old quip about a certain sort of book in hard covers doubling as an offensive weapon really is the case here). So it is something of a pleasant surprise to discover that, although it most certainly possesses complexity and ambition in spades, the book is, more than anything else, an old-fashioned flesh-creeper.

Our Share of Night is the ninth work of fiction by Enriquez, who is best known in the Anglophone world for her two short-story collections, Things We Lost in the Fire and The Dangers of Smoking in Bed (shortlisted for the 2021 International Booker Prize). This new book (her first novel to be translated into English) is sprawling and intense, a masterclass in how to maintain narrative discipline over a long period of time, even while cutting between decades, continents and perspectives.

The novel opens in January 1981 with a recently widowed father, Juan, and his son, Gaspar, on the run. The man is suffering from ‘the erratic palpitations of arrhythmia in his chest’ and the boy from ‘shallow, vigilant sleep’. At the outset, we know only that they are

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