Are You Tough Enough to Read ‘Hurricane Season’ by Fernanda Melchor?


‘Hurricane Season’ by Fernanda Melchor (2016) – 210 pages            Translated from the Spanish by Sophie Hughes

‘Hurricane Season’ is not for the squeamish or easily offended. The characters in this novel tell the truth about some very rough things. They are angry and the words they use are coarse and direct.

It takes place in the state of Veracruz which is near the eastern coast of Mexico. The Witch lives alone. The only people who come to visit her are the prostitutes and other women who want to buy some drugs or require her services from time to time. The police and some of the other guys in the town believe she has a lot of money stashed away somewhere in her house.

Much of ‘Hurricane Season’ is written from the stance of females’ righteous anger at “the full, brutal force of male vice”, although the females in this novel are not exactly exemplars of good behavior either.

The writing is crude, lewd, explicit, and powerful. This is savage eloquent writing conveying these women’s justifiable anger at men. Melchor’s writing is compelling and forceful in the extreme. Her sentences are long, sometimes pages long, with each phrase hitting home.

I cannot adequately convey the awful force of Fernanda Melchor’s writing in ‘Hurricane Season’ except by quoting some lines one of the women says to a pregnant 12 year old girl:

Because if you don’t want it, I know someone who can help you, someone who knows how to fix these things. She’s half gone in the head, the poor dear, and between us she gives me the creeps, but deep down she’s a decent person, and you’ll see at the last minute she won’t take any money. You’ve no idea how many fixes she’s gotten me and the Excalibur girls out of . We can tell her to sort you out if you don’t want it. Or do you want it? You’d best make your mind up, mamacita, and pronto, because that bump’s not getting any smaller.”

All the gruesome and disgusting things revealed in this novel make for compulsive reading. One justifiable criticism of ‘Hurricane Season’ is that much of the obscenity, the violence, and the body part dismemberment might seem gratuitous. “Telling it like it is” is one thing; “Exaggerating the Horrific for Effect” is another.

One feature of ‘Hurricane Season’ which actually helps make it so effective is the extremely long sentences in which Melchor piles phrase upon phrase in a torrent of words. These sentences have a shattering impact and make for a gripping read. The trend in writing for the last few years or decades has been for sentences stripped down to the bare essentials. ‘Hurricane Season’ goes totally against this sparse trend, and it is so successful that it might itself start a new trend toward more expansive writing.

Read ‘Hurricane Season’ if you are brave and honest enough to take it.


Grade:    A



6 responses to this post.

  1. In a word, no. I’m not brave enough right now, though I accept this is an important book. I just can’t handle that level of brutality at the moment…

    Liked by 1 person


  2. I have this on the bedside table and I’ve been putting it off, although I think it’s going to be impressive.

    Liked by 1 person


  3. This is on my TBR for #20BooksOfSummer. I actually think I need to read something hard hitting because I’ve read a succession of “tame” novels recently and nothing’s really grabbed me by the throat.



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