SinC25: Claudia Piñeiro, #7 post of expert challenge

Having completed the Sisters in Crime book bloggers’ moderate challenge, I am now embarking on the expert level. I managed to get half-way through this level in 2011, but still have four more posts to go before completion. The challenge:

write ten blog posts about works of crime fiction by women authors. For each, mention three similar women authors whose works you would recommend.

Claudia Piñeiro achieves that very difficult balance between writing an involving novel and making you laugh. Her books are not overtly funny in terms of set-pieces, slapstick and so on, as is the case in much “comic” crime. Nor are they conventional crime novels as such, in that they don’t feature detectives or very linear narratives – though murders do happen! For me, these books work because they are satires on human nature as the protagonists desperately strive to maintain their fragile images of themselves in an excessively consumerist social context. The humour works at the level of a light-hearted treatment of serious, warped issues – most particularly about how our materialism forces us into situations that get ever more extreme.

Two novels by Claudia Piñeiro have been translated from Argentinian Spanish into English by Miranda France, and published by Bitter Lemon Press:

Thursday Night Widows, “written in 2005, when the Argentine currency inflation was out of control and the characters are terrified by the potential effects of the 9/11 atrocity. Not only is the book a fascinating harbinger of the financial crisis that hit so many other parts of the world a few years later, but also, according to the publisher’s blurb, it “eerily foreshadowed a criminal case that generated a scandal in the Argentine media.” Do yourself a favour, and read it.”

All Yours, a “perfectly pitched black comedy” about a woman desperate to maintain her view of her marriage as perfect, whatever the evidence to the contrary.

Three other authors who write similar books and whom I’d recommend?

Teresa Solana‘s two Barcelona-based novels, A Not so Perfect Crime and A Short Cut To Paradise, skewer the social, artistic and literary pretensions of the Catalonian scene, while introducing the oddest pair of brother-detectives in crime fiction.

Donna Moore, in Go to Helena Handbasket, whisks hilariously through every cliché in the many crime-fiction genres. This book does not so much focus on the social or political comment aspects, but there are plenty of gems to pick up if can manage to look while you are laughing yourself silly.

Leigh Redhead‘s Peepshow is about women trapped in the “hostess” industry in Australia – yet ‘trapped’ is the last thing they feel they are. One of them, Simone, has a PI license, and when a body is found in the sea, she decides to use this to investigate the crime and escape into a more appealing work life.

My previous posts in the SinC25 challenge.

The Sisters in Crime 25th anniversary challenge.

9 thoughts on “SinC25: Claudia Piñeiro, #7 post of expert challenge

  1. I read Thursday Night Widows and enjoyed it and have put on library reserve All Yours. I am looking forward to reading it.
    I also read Teresa Solana’s first book and A Short Cut to Paradise is on my TBR pile.
    Donna Moore’s book cited here is going on my TBR list.
    Also, grimaced at the FF discussion about the publicity on the book about atrocities committed against a young teenager. I just don’t get it — why these books are produced and why they are promoted like this. Who reads this sordid stuff? And why are publishers catering to the worst elements in society? It boggles the mind. Glad this discussion is going on. Maybe it will raise consciousness on these issues in the publishing world.
    Is it that some writers have ceased being creative in their writing? That publishers and booksellers think this is what sells. (That is a scary thought.) Or that they’re creating a market for these books with all this hype. Maybe it’s a lot easier and quicker for some writers to churn out this pulp and then for publishers to get it into the markets sooner to sell.
    I saw an article last week that said that many publishers printing mass market paperbacks aim for what sells at supermarkets. (If that is so, I’m shopping online and avoiding supermarkets altogether!)

    • Thanks, Kathy. On the FF discussion, I actually don’t know if the book is about atrocities to 13 year old girls as I don’t intend to read it (!), what I found upsetting was that the publicity uses this fact as a “hook” to get people to buy the book. That I do find depressing (even if the book avoids the subject altogether!). In the UK, supermarkets are taking an increasing proportion of the non-internet book market. Booksellers hate them almost as much as they hate Amazon, as all the supermarkets do is to take a few titles and sell those very cheap, they don’t bother about extent of stock or back-stock so they can make money doing this, unlike dedicated bookshops which can’t.

  2. I’ve not read any of these authors Maxine. I do shy away from ‘comic’ writing but having just sniggered along to Alan Bradley’s latest Flavia de Luce book I really should widen my reading.

    • I don;t like comic writing either Sarah, usually, but I do like Pineiro, perhaps because she is more satire than comic, and it is always good to smile at the “WAG” type of mentality she sends up.

  3. Maxine – Excellent recommendations! It’s not very easy to do social satire well and I admire those who can. I must agree with you about Teresa Solana and Donna Moore; both have a solid sense of the pretensions around them and they do skewer them well. I know Leigh Redhead’s work less well, and I need to do something about that.

  4. I have only read Thursday Night Widows but found it very thought-provoking – and very timely for today’s economic times. Funny how books written to a specific national situation can become relevant on a different stage. (Here, it’s Argentina’s economic problems, but I was also struck by Arne Dahl’s Misterioso, which is set at the time of a late 1990s Swedish banking crisis but says so much about the global banking meltdown that started in the US in 2008.)

    • You are right, Barbara, I was very struck by that when reading Misterioso, 10 yrs after first publication! (took ages for that book to find a translator).

  5. I have read two of the books you mention. Claudia Piñeiro’s Thursday Night Widows and Teresa Solana’s A Not So Perfect Crime and thoroughly enjoyed them both. Neither is a classic, traditional crime novel, but much more studies in human nature and more satirical than simply comic. Though both do feature murders. Have just bought A Short Cut to Paradise which is on my list for next month. The other two authors are new to me and I will give them both a try.

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