A wonderful little novel by Argentine Claudia Pinheiro about a woman with flaws who must solve a mystery

the novel You know Elenafor the Argentine writer – thrillers, dramas, novels and journalism – Claudia Pinheiro (1960) was already published in the Netherlands in 2010 by the publishing house Signatuur under the title Evil Elena. The fact that there is now a reissue – Meridian copied the original translation by Mariolin Sparte Bellacorto – is due to the fact that the novel has been nominated for this year’s International Booker Prize. For completeness, he went not to Piñeiro but to Indian Geetanjali Shree for (not yet translated into Dutch) sand tomb.

However, Piñeiro’s adorable little novel was nominated for good reason. It’s a thrilling story, almost real, with a rare heroine; Sixty-three-year-old Elena, somewhat bitter, suffers from an aggressive form of Parkinson’s disease. Make no mistake, not the other variant of this The hundred-year-old man who snuck out the window and disappeared (By the way, this novel in its original version appeared before the bestseller by Jonas Jonassen); You know Elena Darker, also darker. In addition to the detective, an unforgettable investigation of motherhood, regret, and the types of love.

Elena’s daughter committed suicide. At least that’s what the police think. Elena herself is not sure: the circumstances of the suicide are alien to her. She wants to investigate, but her body is no longer working. Her only chance for (hard) exercise is while her medications are working. The novel beautifully begins with a leg waiting for the brain to obey: ‘She thinks, but although her brain commands movement, her right foot does not move. It does not move forward in the air. not climb. He will not come down again. It does not move, it does not move, it does not move forward, it does not descend. Piñeiro uses repetition to emphasize disbelief; How can it be that, the body which until recently coincided with its occupant, is now disobedient, a cross? Elena is waiting, she has to catch a train, she is in a hurry, trapped in her own body, and wanders about in memories of a vacation with her daughter Rita. Quarrels, only quarrels, their bond was one of quarrels and refusals. They were very difficult for each other – later in the novel it is revealed that Elena forced her home-daughter to undergo a painful examination because her periods were light, so she may have failed as a fertile woman, and Rita, in turn, does not fail to act as a fertile woman. Her mother refuses to emphasize all her hateful sides. “Every morning when Elena wakes up, she remembers, every day anew, what awaits her,” Pinheiro wrote.

Cool, in your opinion: why take the huge task, get up all the way from a chair, walk to a station to catch the train, wait in the next taxi for the next pill to work, twisted like a question mark because you are so sick that you can no longer look up, Only seeing the lower body?

Because the (simplified) answer Elena believes that she is still a mother even without a child. Because there’s a mystery to solve, and it takes a healthier body – Elena wants to stand up because she only knows one body that owes her so much that it must be helped. She belongs to a certain Isabel, and Isabel lives deep inside Buenos Aires.

By looking back and from the eyes of others, the reader learns how dangerous Elena’s situation is. Rita who gave her mother a kidney test: “Maybe then you won’t smell a lot of urine, Mom.” A child says on the podium: “What has this lady got, Mom?” Inability to make eye contact, drooling in a handkerchief. She described so neatly, with all those repetitions to emphasize Elena’s slow presence, her thoughts that she couldn’t help but go in circles. But Elena is by no means a martyr, even in a better state it seems that she was a bitter woman, full of conservative opinions, cruel towards her loved ones. Which makes a potential confrontation with that mysterious Isabelle fraught; Because this woman owes Elena, or does Elena think so? What are you really looking for? Perhaps for one thing – a heroic act, atrocity – he connected mother and daughter, equally inciting and therefore incompatible.

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