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Luisa Valenzuela: Novela negra con argentinos (Black Novel with Argentines)

Agustín is an Argentinian novelist living and working in New York. One day he buys a gun. While out cruising the streets for local colour, he visits a theatre after being given a ticket by a strange man. The actress in the play invites him back to her apartment. He shoots her dead. Why? We never really find out and, more importantly, nor does he. He takes refuge with Roberta, a fellow Argentinian novelist living in New York who comforts him and, indeed, seems to find him more interesting than before, even though she is somewhat miffed when she finds out that it is a woman he has killed, after having told her initially that it was a man.

At first paranoia sets in. Roberta tries to cover up for him and they think of all sorts of ways of protecting him. But then they realize no-one cares, either about the actress’ death or Agustín’s potential involvement. Hey, this is New York. So can they go back to their previous lives? Well, no not really. For it is all a game. New York is shifting and so are they. They are shifting in their roles – as writers and Argentinians. The people around them are shifting too. But, as the title implies, Agustín and Roberta are seeing these shifts and these games as Argentinians, exiled because of political events in Argentina, and not as New Yorkers (for whom the game is very different as Valenzuela clearly shows us). Or, to put it succinctly, whether it is black or white all depends on where you are standing.

Publishing history

First published in Spanish by Plaza & Janés 1990
First published in English by Simon & Schuster 1992
Translated by Toby Talbot