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Reviews of You Glow in the Dark by Liliana Colanzi

You Glow in the Dark

by Liliana Colanzi

You Glow in the Dark by Liliana Colanzi X
You Glow in the Dark by Liliana Colanzi
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    Feb 2024, 144 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Sara Fiore
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About this Book

Book Summary

Introducing the Bolivian writer Liliana Colanzi, You Glow in the Dark glimmers with an unearthly light and a nearly radioactive power

The seven stories of You Glow in the Dark unfold in a Latin America wrecked and poisoned by human greed, and yet Colanzi's writing—at once sleek and dense, otherworldly and intensely specific—casts an eerily bright spell over the wreckage. Some stories seem to be set in a near future; all are superbly executed and yet hard to pin down; they often leave the reader wondering: was that realistic or fantastic?

Colanzi draws power from Andean cyberpunk just as much as from classic horror writers, and this daring is matched by her energizing simultaneous use of multiplicity and fragmentation—the book's stylistic trademarks. Freely mixing worlds, she uses the Bolivian altiplano as the backdrop for an urban dystopia and blends Aymara with Spanish. Colanzi never gets bogged down; she can be brutal and direct or light-handed and subtle. Her materials are dark, but always there's the lift of her vivid sense of humor. You Glow in the Dark seizes the reader's attention (from the title on) and holds it: this is a book that announces the arrival of a major new talent.

The Greenest Eyes

She spent her tenth birthday in her mother's village. Every vacation they went back to that place in the jungle where there were no cars, just motorbikes going round and round the plaza, and huge insects that kept frying themselves on the streetlamps. Her father bought mara wood there and took it to the city to make varnished furniture. As time went by, there were more timber cutters in the jungle, and fewer mara trees, and more varnished furniture with carved swan's heads in the fancy houses. Ofelia liked the village because she was allowed to play with the neighborhood children until after midnight. Also, most of them rode motorbikes, like a gang of pizza delivery kids. The only cinema showed samurai movies, and there was an ice cream parlor on the plaza where they bought ice cream made from fruits with mysterious and resonant names: motojobobo, cacharana, pitanga, ocoró, asaí ...

On her birthday, her parents took her to dinner at The Dragon Palace, the ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Many of the characters are trapped in their circumstances, unable to extricate themselves from isolation and poverty but increasingly desperate to do so. The lush jungles are full of bugs and diseases. Magnificent rainforests hide killer animals. Skies are described as "electric," "scandalous" rain falls, and lightning is a frequently repeated image. Places are used over and over for experimental science and dangerous technology with little regard for the people or the land. But there is often a bright spot of hope that creeps in through the cracks. In "Atomito," a town almost destroyed by a mysterious factory is driven to rise up and dismantle it. In "The Narrow Way," members of a cult kept in line by electric collars and high fences brave the shocks to escape. The most emotionally impactful story in the collection, the titular "You Glow in the Dark," is a fictionalized reimagining of a real radiological accident that occurred in Brazil in the 1980s. The stories are not always easy to understand, and plots don't always take a logical course, but the subjects Colanzi writes about don't either...continued

Full Review Members Only (873 words)

(Reviewed by Sara Fiore).

Media Reviews

Leah Rachel von Essen, Chicago Review of Books
In [Colanzi's] tales, violence is something in the air or soil, something ready to take us over or occupy our lives at any moment.

El País (Spain)
A rare excellence: a capacity to combine the ambiguity of poetry with the clarity of a revelation.

Latin American Literature Today
Liliana Colanzi won the International Ribera Del Duero Prize for You Glow in the Dark, further evincing the tremendous talent of this Bolivian writer whose fiction has opened up new spaces in our literature of the strange and the fantastic.

Otra Parte (Colombia)
Perhaps the best thing about the collection are the coincidences that thread through it ... the luminosity of the book resides in these encounters and synchronicities, like the blue light that shines from the contaminated people in the last story, the blue of death, but also of a star or the bottom of the ocean.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Tinged with futuristic flourishes and set largely in the Bolivian Altiplano, these stories examine the aftermath of terrible trespasses, mostly only whispered about. The 'alien gaze' is a keen instrument for dissecting the human condition, and Colanzi employs it to great effect here.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Bolivian writer Colanzi makes her English-language debut with a shimmering collection focused on the ruinous consequences of human folly...Taken together, the stories paint an arresting portrait of corruption, industrialization, the power of nature, and supernatural forces. Readers will be captivated.

Diego Báez, Booklist
This slim story collection contains seven entries, each told in taut, sharp prose that will beguile, enthrall, and astound. … In 2017, Colanzi was named one of the 39 most promising Latin American writers under 39, and her talent and stature continue to grow.

Reader Reviews

chelsea

You Glow in the Dark
"You Glow in the Dark" by Liliana Colanzi is a haunting and immersive collection of short stories that deftly blurs the lines between reality and the supernatural. Through her vivid and lyrical prose, Colanzi explores themes of identity, alienation, ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

The Goiania Accident

Photograph of the radioactive source of Goiania accident, white capsule lying on ground In the title story of You Glow in the Dark, scrap metal scavengers uncover a strange glowing capsule in the ruins of an abandoned hospital. Dazzled by the beautiful blue particles that glow in the dark, they spread radioactive poison throughout their community, leaving illness and death everywhere they go. When the accident is finally contained, it takes on a religious quality, with the victims seen as saints and living miracles and the disaster itself an uncontrollable act of God.

The actual incident closely mirrored in Liliana Colanzi's story occurred in Goiania, Brazil on September 13th, 1987. Like in the story, two scavengers exploring an abandoned radiation therapy clinic discovered a capsule and took it to a scrap metal dealer ...

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Read-Alikes

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