By Paula McGrath.
If in recent times the ‘literary’ novel has polarised into two distinct types — the expansive, all-encompassing Jonathan Franzen kind, and the other, more modest variety, slim volumes of spare, detatched prose, like Ben Lerner‘s Leaving The Atocha Station — Paradises belongs firmly to the latter. It follows an episodic structure, and this, combined with the uncomplicated sentence structure of its first person, present tense prose, makes it deceptive in its apparent simplicity.
Paradises opens a few years after Iosi Havilio‘s earlier novel Open Door ends, and follows its unnamed, recently widowed protagonist as she moves with her four year old son, Simón, from rural Open Door to Buenos Aires. Chapter by chapter, she finds accommodation, employment, meets an array of misfits, parties, sometimes takes care of, sometimes neglects Simon, considers participating in a robbery, and other somewhat random situations.