A Writer’s Struggle, an Affair and a Pot of Cash Converge in a Novel

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By Ratik Asokan

THE WOMAN FROM URUGUAY
By Pedro Mairal
Translated by Jennifer Croft

“The Woman from Uruguay,” by the Argentine writer Pedro Mairal, will feel comfortingly familiar to Anglophone readers. Narrated by a Mairal-esqeue novelist, whose thoughts tend not to stray far from his personal troubles and obsessions, this is recognizably a work of autofiction. The tone, too, is one we have heard before: clever, cosmopolitan, somewhat fey, vaguely troubled. Or perhaps that is the book Mairal set out to write, before he lost his nerve. Midway through, he turns a mood piece into a seedy thriller, bringing in sex, crime and intrigue. The result is an unfocused, lopsided story that packs far too much into 150 pages.

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