Original language: Español

Year of publication: 2020

Valuation: I do not know

I met the Argentine Cynthia A. Matayoshi through the collective anthology Weird World. I thought her story, “Please Come In,” was brilliant, and it decided me to look for more of the author’s works. Then I discovered that Trap Editions had published Matayoshi’s first novel in Spain in 2020, and I threw myself into it headlong. Unfortunately, it has given me mixed feelings.

What is it about? In The shadow of the whales, humans coexist with fantasies in the neon-tinted streets of Chinatown. These sell pure desire, which can be addictive and even deadly for those who consume it.

Let’s start by highlighting the main virtue of the book at hand: the universe in which it takes place. At first it seems like an interesting setting but seen a thousand times (the typical fantastic world seasoned with Japanese elements). However, it soon introduces a second, extremely original reality, inhabited by, among others, animals, gods, machines and living fossils. Although perhaps it can be criticized for not following a clear internal logic, it is undoubtedly creative and suggestive.

Now I want to address a section of The shadow of the whales which, despite not having convinced me, is meritorious: the prose. And although the style of the novel is (I think deliberately) robotic, repetitive and bombastic, it sets the appropriate rhythm or tone for certain scenes, and gives a lyrical patina to the whole.

Finally I have left what, in my opinion, is the least successful aspect of Matayoshi’s work: the characters. They are flat, both in their physical description and psychological characterization, they speak with an excessively similar voice and maintain interactions that lack spontaneity or development to be credible. Oh, and they don’t work as an allegory of desire and eroticism, because the representation of both themes in these pages is simplistic and linear.

Summarizing: The shadow of the whales It’s a novel that I haven’t quite connected with. Despite everything, I refuse to let this be my last contact with Matayoshi, because thanks to his story “Please come in” I know what he is capable of (at least over short distances).

Source: https://unlibroaldia.blogspot.com/2023/12/cynthia-matayoshi-la-sombra-de-las.html

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