Paulina Flores is a young Chilean author, whose book, Qué verguenza, was named one of the best Latin American books published within the past 20 years. As the only Chilean novelist I tend to support is Isabel Allende, I figured this would be a fabulous opportunity to try someone new. This book is composed of nine short stories with the recurring theme of different forms of shame and utter embarrassment, whether it’s a life choice, desperation during unemployment, the stealing of church instruments, or a failed relationship. Some narrate in the first person, others in the third person. Some of the protagonists are males, others are females. But aside from telling stories of humiliating moments in their lives, they are all young, and therefore you will see lots of Chilean slang (such as fome, garzón/garzona, po, amongst many others). In fact, I did a video on these slang terms and what they mean in English that just came out, so check it out before you read the book! Also, you see the voseo, but not in the previous books that I’ve reviewed. Chilean voseo is very different, especially the “ar” verbs end in “ai” like “pensai” and “cachai”, which is interesting.
I really enjoyed each story, as each had a different plot and set of problems. What I also enjoyed were the unexpected endings – there were lots of twists and turns that you don’t necessarily see coming, which made it even more enjoyable. A lot of the stories are around 30 pages long, but the last one was over 85 pages. I suggest reading them in order, so that you gain the endurance it takes for the last story, as it’s quite long and talks about two different plots at the same time, but the ending ties both stories together. I really enjoyed this book, but my only mistake was taking a break from it for about a week – it flows much better when you read the stories back-to-back. It is available in English, and I would recommend the original version to more advanced readers, such as any student in third year Spanish in university or post-AP Spanish Language and Culture. Pick up a copy today!