Written in a chilling torrent of prose by one of Mexico’s most thrilling new writers, Paradais explores the explosive fragility of Mexican society. Translated by Sophie Hughes.

Inside a luxury housing complex, two misfit teenagers sneak around and get drunk. Franco Andrade, lonely, overweight, and addicted to porn, obsessively fantasizes about seducing his neighbour - an attractive married woman and mother. Meanwhile Polo, the community’s gardener, dreams about quitting his gruelling job and fleeing his overbearing mother and their narco-controlled village. As each face the impossibility of getting what they think they deserve, together Franco and Polo hatch a mindless and macabre scheme.

The 2022 International Booker Prize
Published by
Fitzcarraldo Editions
Publication date

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Fernanda Melchor

Fernanda Melchor

About the Author

Fernanda Melchor has been nominated twice for the International Booker Prize - longlisted in 2022 and shortlisted in 2020. She born in Veracruz, Mexico, in 1982, is a writer and journalist who lives and works in Puebla.
More about Fernanda Melchor
Sophie Hughes

Sophie Hughes

About the Translator

Sophie Hughes was born in Chertsey, UK. She is a literary translator from Spanish. 
More about Sophie Hughes

Fernanda Melchor on Paradais

‘When I was finishing writing Hurricane Season, I found out that the residents of a real town in Veracruz called La Matosa (from which I took the name to create the fictional setting of my novel) were evicted from their lands so that a luxury gated community with a golf course could be built in their place. In Hurricane Season I had written, among other things, about misogynistic violence in marginalised areas, and this time around I wanted to explore the fact that violence is not something that’s exclusively tied to misery or poverty, but something that could also be born in the heart of ‘paradise’, this luxury compound for privileged people.’

Read the full interview here.

Fernanda Melchor

I wanted to explore the fact that violence is not something that’s exclusively tied to misery or poverty, but something that could also be born in the heart of “paradise”

— Fernanda Melchor, author of Paradais

What the judges said

‘In Paradais Fernanda Melchor draws us into the brutish, profane world of two unlikely, hapless teenagers, Polo and Franco, in the gated community where they plot a crime that can only go horribly wrong. Sophies Hughes’ endlessly inventive translation breathtakingly captures the book’s caustic humour and exhilarating pace.’

What the critics said

Miranda France, Times Literary Supplement

Paradais is both more compact and more cogent [than Hurricane Season]. Rhythm and lexis work in tandem to produce a savage lyricism. The translator Sophie Hughes marvellously matches the author in her pursuit of a new cadence […] From its first sentence, in fact, Paradais feels rhythmically propelled towards a violent climax. Full stops occur rarely enough to seem meaningful, Melchor using long lines of unbroken narrative to reel in her terrible ending.’

Juan Gabriel Vásquez, New Yorker

‘With a nimble command of the novel’s technical resources and an uncanny grasp of the irrational forces at work in society, the [Paradais and Hurricane Season] navigate a reality riven by violence, race, class, and sex. And they establish Melchor, who was born in 1982, as the latest of Faulkner’s Latin American inheritors, and among the most formidable […] Paradais is a portrait of an ailing society inured to its own cruelty, and employs long paragraphs and supple sentences, always alive to the rhythms of speech. But the new novel departs from the previous one in important ways: it is more contained, less daring, less ambitious; it is, in a peculiar way, more reader-friendly.’

Chris Power, The Guardian

Paradais has a tighter focus than Hurricane Season (both are superbly translated into English by Sophie Hughes). Its sentences are less breathless and serpentine, but its subject matter is equally challenging.’

Barry Pierce, Irish Times

Paradais is a slimmer work than Hurricane Season, but Melchor hasn’t let up on the oppressive darkness and violence that pervades her work. She covers many of the same themes across both books, with the toxic effects of masculinity again being the prism through which our main character’s world views refract.’

Michael Delgado, inews

‘A much slimmer, tauter book, but occupies a similar world [as Hurricane Season]. Here, though, the climax – another brutal act – happens not at the start but at the end, and we know from the opening pages who does it and why […]Paradais has the intensity of a short story, and it might seem like the escalation of events is too extreme to be truly believable. But Melchor’s prose, in Sophie Hughes’s virtuosic translation, is so potent that the story’s pace never feels outlandish.’

Other nominated books by Fernanda Melchor

Hurricane Season

Other nominated books by Sophie Hughes

Hurricane Season
Mac and His Problem
The Remainder