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The Adventures of China Iron

The Adventures of China Iron

Gabriela Cabezón Cámara
Translated by Iona Macintyre and Fiona Mackintosh from Spanish

Published by Charco Press

1872. The pampas of Argentina. China is a young woman eking out an existence in a remote gaucho encampment. After her no-good husband is conscripted into the army, China bolts
for freedom, setting off on a wagon journey through the pampas in the company of her new-found friend Liz, a settler from Scotland. While Liz provides China with a sentimental education and schools her in the nefarious ways of the British Empire, their eyes are opened to the wonders of Argentina’s richly diverse flora and fauna, cultures and languages, as well as to the ruthless violence involved in nation-building.
This subversive retelling of Argentina’s foundational gaucho epic, Martín Fierro, is a celebration of the colour and movement of the living world, the open road, love and sex, and the dream of lasting freedom. With humour and sophistication, Gabriela Cabezón Cámara has created a joyful, hallucinatory novel that is also an incisive critique of national origin myths and of the casualties of ruthless progress.


Actor Natalie Haynes reads a passage from The Adventures of China Iron.

Gabriela Cabezón Cámara reads from her book The Adventures of China Iron in its original language Spanish and talks to us about her novel.

We speak to translators Fiona Mackintosh and Iona Macintyre about the art of translation and how they worked together.

About the Author

Gabriela Cabezón Cámara

Gabriela Cabezón Cámara was born in Buenos Aires in 1968. Her debut novel La virgen cabeza (Slum Virgin, Charco Press, 2017) was followed by La Isla de la Luna (2012) (Island of the Moon), and Romance de la Negra Rubia (2014) (Romance of the Black Blonde) as well as two collections of short stories: Sacrificios (2015) (Sacrifices) and Y su despojo fue una muchedumbre (2015) (Her Waste Became a Crowd). In 2011 she published the novella Le viste la cara a Dios (You’ve Seen God’s Face), later republished as a graphic novel, which won the Argentine Senate’s Alfredo Palacios Prize. It was recognised by Buenos Aires City Council and the Congress of Buenos Aires Province for its social and cultural significance and its vital contribution in the fight against human trafficking. In 2013 she was writer-in-residence at UC Berkeley. Cabezón Cámara is one of the leading figures in Argentinian and Latin American literature and one of the most prominent feminist intellectuals of the region. She lives in Buenos Aires.



Iona Macintyre is a Senior Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at the University of Edinburgh. Iona’s teaching and research has focused on nineteenth-century Spanish American history and culture. Within this area she works primarily on Argentina, history of the book, translation studies, gender studies and transatlantic relations. She has also published on the contemporary fiction of Jorge Accame. 

Fiona Mackintosh is a Senior Lecturer in Latin American Literature at the University of Edinburgh with research interests in gender studies, comparative literature and literary translation. Fiona specialises in Argentinian fiction and poetry and has published extensively on Alejandra Pizarnik and Silvina Ocampo in particular, as well as on contemporary authors. She has translated Luisa Valenzuela’s ‘The Other Book’ for Bomb magazine and selected poems by Esteban Peicovich for In Other Words. She is currently writing a book on the novels of Claudia Piñeiro.