Still Born

Cover of "Still Born" by Guadalupe Netter, translated by Rosalind Harvey. The cover is an abstract pattern made up of reds and oranges.
Guadalupe Nettel, translated by Rosalind Harvey
Feb 5, 2024

Hello and welcome to this week's No Wait Wednesday, where we take a look at an item on our New Release shelves at one of our local branch Libraries that's available to check out right now that deserves a second look - and sometimes a first one, too. Hundreds of new books come into the library each week, and it's impossible to keep an eye on everything. This is where your friendly neighborhood Johnson County Library staff comes in - we're always available to recommend a book (or a movie, or an audiobook, or a video game) that you might possibly love. This week we'll look at a title in translation that's moving, reflective, and all about mother-daughter relationships - in short, it's perfect for your book club: Still Born by Guadalupe Nettel, translated by Rosalind Harvey.

Shortlisted for the International Man Booker Prize, "Still Born" focuses on two women, Alina and Laura, who are both successful and single women in their 30s who are from Mexico City but live in Paris. Alina runs an art gallery while Laura is persuing a PhD in literature. Both are the best of friends and have many things in common, including a longstanding pact to never have children. Eventually, however, Alina starts to have second thoughts, and returns to Mexico with a partner, Aurelio, but encounters difficulties conceiving. Initially taken aback, Laura, who has had her tubes tied, eventually travels back to support her friend and finds herself grappling with issues of motherhood herself, striking up a friendship with a neighbor who has a son, both recovering from an abusive relationship. Alina eventually becomes pregnant, but is told that her child has a high chance of developing a severe neurological disability, throwing all her plans into chaos.

Throughout it all, these two women support each other, and the novel excels at examining the nuances of motherhood with all the pressures as well as the joys it can bring. Using spare, precisely chosen language, Nettel digs deep emotionally, drawing out various and heartfelt perspectives of the different characters. Powerful, emotional, and award-winning, if you've never read a translated work, pick up Guadalupe Nettel's novel and give it a shot. Find this and other book group picks at your local library. 

Thanks for reading, and we'll see you next week!

Reviewed by Gregg W.
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