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

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By Ratik Asokan

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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