Petite Fleur by Iosi Havilio

Book Review by Rosie Barron | 31 Jul 2017
Book title: Petite Fleur
Author: Iosi Havilio, translated by Lorna Scott-Fox

In endings, there are perhaps new beginnings. Starting with the explosive end to his job at a fireworks factory, this new novel from Argentina's Iosi Havilio explores the life of Jose as he begins to try and find a new direction for himself without employment. His wife is distant, his daughter is too young to notice, so Jose instead immerses himself in mundane housework until one DIY task leads to the gruesome discovery of an otherworldly talent. 

What follows is a spiralling account of Jose's battle with inertia, marriage and suburbia. Perhaps more suited as a collection of short stories, the book, although intriguing, fails to bring much new to the suburban genre. The tone is varied, with hints of the absurd and magical realism. An uncanny plot mixed with attempts at humour that register as more unnerving than anything else. Unemployment and the boredom of modernity open many doors for a book like this in terms of plot. Havilio, however, also opens windows and transforms this text into an obscure mess.

Instead of adding flair or an educated back story to the main characters, references to acclaimed Russian novelists and classical musicians do more to distance them from the plot and provide an unflattering comparison to what becomes a loosely crafted, obscure tale. Although comparisons have been made with Camus, Murikami and Kafka, it will be interesting to see how this new novel is taken by Havilio's significant cult following. [Rosie Barron]

Out 3 Aug, published by & Other Stories, RRP £10.00