Written by Angélica Gorodischer Sue Burke (trans.)
Review by Elizabeth Caulfield Felt

Prodigies revolves around a 19th-century German house: its history, its owners, and most importantly, Madame Helena, the woman who turned it into a boardinghouse, and its current residents: a former opera singer and her daughter, a general, a student, a shopkeeper, a toy connoisseur, a Japanese businesswoman, and the boardinghouse’s cook and two maids.

The prose reads like poetry, dense and obscure. At first I was intrigued and mesmerized by the beautiful words and images. But as the story continued, I wanted content. The author holds readers at a distance, almost telling us about the characters, almost showing us a story. The sentences are long and meandering, following every digression until the reader is lost and must reread and rethink and slow down. I should summarize the story, or tell you about the characters, but the way I understood the novel, none of that is of any importance. The author seemed to be trying to distract me from the characters and the story. I believe this is the point of the novel.

An interesting idea, but not an enjoyable read. Gorodischer is a highly acclaimed Argentinian novelist, so perhaps I have completely misunderstood what the story was doing – or not doing – and why. I was obviously not the intended reader for this literary piece.