The She-Devil In The Mirror
Partly because my new novel, Tulum, is told by a fictional, first person narrator, I’m particularly interested in fiction with similar narrators. I didn’t initially know that Horacio Castellanos Moya’s 2000 novel The She-Devil In The Mirror (La Diabola En La Espejo) was in this category. I was reading it because of my enjoyment of another book by Moya, Senselessness. I wrote about Senselessness in May.
Imagine my delight. The novel’s narrator is female, privileged, Salvadoran ruling class, obsessive, garrulous, intuitive, and ultimately not reliable. Prompted by excitement and panic, she talks faster and faster, a mile a minute. She babbles on and on. But, alas, she’s headed for a crash. In post-civil war Salvador, her friend is killed, the hit man is arrested, but then the real search begins: who is the "mastermind," who put out the contract. Why was her friend murdered? There will be no spoiler here. The book is short, fast paced, very funny, very dark, and ultimately, quite frightening.
As Francisco Goldman notes in a blurb, the narrator “reveals more about intractable corruption, impunity and pure eveil in her country than the usual narrators of such stories – terse, noirish, knowing detectives or journalists, for example -- ever could.” That's a surprise. Ordinarily, the reader expects corruption, impunity, and abuse to be exposed by the victims. Or the investigators. But it turns out surprisingly that Moya's narrator is uniquely situated to reveal all of it. It becomes immediately clear why so many people have fled the country.