Fernanda Melchor

Portrait Fernanda Melchor
© Maj Lindström

Mexican writer Fernanda Melchor was born in Boca del Río in 1982. She studied journalism at the Universidad Veracruzana. In addition to working in the university’s communications department, she has published her short prose as well as nonfiction writing in various magazines such as »Excélsior«, »Replicante«, »Le Monde Diplomatique«, and »El Malpensante«.
In 2013, Melchor published two pieces: »Aquí no es Miami« (tr: This is not Miami), a collection of journalistic reports all located around the port of Veracruz that explore the brutality of everyday life in Mexico, and the novel »Falsa liebre« (tr: Fake Rabbit). It centers on four protagonists whose lives are marked by violence and misery as well as by sex, drugs, and alcohol abuse. What makes this debut so special, however, is not so much the complex depiction of miserable living conditions of young people on the fringes of society, but rather the unique linguistic power with which Melchor creates a hyperrealistic narrative space. Melchor’s second novel, »Temporada de huracanes« (2017; Eng. »Hurricane Season«, 2020), takes place in a village called La Matosa, located near sugar cane plantations on a country road. The life of the inhabitants is characterized by crudeness, poverty, and superstition; men are addicted to alcohol, violence against women is all too common. The story continues with the discovery of the body of a woman known to everyone simply as »the witch« because she supposedly brewed magic potions and was blamed for all of the misfortunes that occurred in La Matosa. The novel outlines the consequences of corruption and social injustice: »Mexican society is very diverse. But it’s true that there’s a perverse inequality that leads to really dark and dangerous conditions and causes crime. I wanted nothing more than to show what can happen in a very small place, forgotten by the state and society.« The novel has been translated into several languages and has received a number of international awards, including the International Literature Prize from the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin and the Anna Seghers Prize. That fact that it became an instant classic in Mexico is largely due to the author’s use of langage that borrows precise vocabulary from various sociolects to create expansive sentences full of invectives and injuria that turn each chapter into a »hurricane«. In her most recent novel, »Páradais« (2021; tr: Paradise), Melchor uses a story about two Mexican teenagers to explore how easily desire can become obsession and eventually evolve into violence.
Melchor teaches aesthetics and art at Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla. She is a 2021 guest of the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program.