The dusty streets of Santiago, the poverty of a port town and the steps in front of a ramshackle house are the settings for Chilean author Paulina Flores' stories of financial misfortune and emotional misunderstandings.
Her characters are on their uppers, working dead-end jobs or unemployed, struggling to hold on to dignity and desire in circumstances that seem designed to crush both.
But while her characters often flounder amid unspoken subtext, Flores exposes the complex workings of even the most off-hand human interactions. “The truth is that meaning is never as simple as it seems,” one character observes.
There’s a masterly steadiness to her writing: no flash or dash, but neat psychological insight and understated, sometimes drily funny storytelling. There are also some killer twists. For all that she eschews high drama, I still physically winced a couple of times.