The second of Fernanda Melchor’s novels to be translated into English and also longlisted for the International Booker Prize, Paradais is a slight volume nonetheless packed with violence and tension. Polo, the protagonist, is a teenage alcoholic stuck in a dead-end job working as a gardener for a luxury housing complex. He is abused by his mother and his boss and his only real friend is the spoilt Franco, an overweight internet addict with a dangerous obsession with his neighbour, an attractive married woman. Polo’s anger and frustration with his family, his employer sends him spiralling towards destruction.
I haven’t read such a brilliant and horrifying study of the extremes of capitalism and machismo since American Psycho. Melchor’s description is rich and visceral, the oppressive heat outside and claustrophobic house where Polo lives are rendered in complex claustrophobic detail.
Paradais is a shocking and brilliant follow-up to Hurricane Season, I highly recommend this novel for fans of Ottessa Moshfegh and Bret Easton Ellis.