Fish Soup by Margarita García Robayo

Robayo's distinct characters and fascinating stories is another hit from publishing newcomers Charco Press

Book Review by Laura Waddell | 14 May 2018
Book title: Fish Soup
Author: Margarita García Robayo, translated by Charlotte Coombe.

Fish Soup is comprised of two novellas and an award winning short story collection. Colombian author Margarita Garcia Robayo has been translated by Charlotte Coombe for newcomers Charco Press, who recently made it onto the Man Booker International longlist in their first year of existence with Ariana Harwicz’s Die, My Love. If the sleek, minimalist covers weren’t enough to grab your attention, their impressive curation of impactful Latin American literature packs a punch, and Fish Soup is another book to further their already excellent reputation.

Well named for its amalgamation of parts which simmer together harmoniously, Fish Soup is a satisfying read, despite the two instances where the dish appears and disgusts those around for its stink. Characters are distinctly drawn, but many have in common a sense of slow burning dissatisfaction with their lives, and are often on the cusp of change which doesn’t necessarily promise improvement, whether through travel, reunions or break-ups, or states of altered consciousness.

There’s plenty of emotional disconnect in desires unrealised or mistruths left to linger. On travelling: 'Perhaps it was an acquired taste, she thought, like eating blue cheese.' Another character finds himself at odds with his stay in “the biggest hotel in Europe,” which is emblazoned on ashtrays and recited by porters. From seaside fish shacks to conferences which are an excuse to visit a city, Fish Soup’s stories are fascinating studies of disassociation. [Laura Waddell]

Fish Soup is translated by Charlotte Coombe
Charco Press, 25 May, £9.99