AUTHOR: Mónica Ojeda
PUBLISHER: Candaya Narrativa, 40
GENRE: Contemporary Narrative
READER’S NAME: Lisa M. Rodriguez
DATE: April 21, 2017

The novel Nefando, by Mónica Ojeda, deserves a translation into English.

Nefando is both intense and complex, and the multiple themes it contains include internet games, the dark web, childhood, sex, and abuse. It is not a novel for the faint-hearted. As a literary work, the writing and intertwining of the themes are carefully wrought, and Ms. Ojeda’s exquisite narrative technique requires thoughtful reading.

Imagine Ready Player One, the popular novel which takes place inside a video game with young people as the main protagonists, and now imagine the story moving down into the lowest and most frightening depths of human existence. Nefando takes place inside a single apartment in which each member of a group of young men and women journeys through their own pain within the context of a brutal video game called Nefando. The mission is not conquest, but exploration and self-discovery.

The talented Ms. Ojeda was born in Guayaquil, Equador in 1988. Her first novel was La desfiguración de Silvia [The Disfiguration of Silvia], published in 2014. She has also published a poetry collection called El ciclo de las piedras [The Stone Cycle]. Both have received literary awards. She has also contributed to the story collection Emergencias, Doce cuentos iberoamicanos [Emergencies: Twelve Iberian-American Stories], published in 2015.

In this novel, Ms. Ojeda demonstrates an extraordinary ability to control many different narrative styles. The chapters allow each of the young protagonists, who share an apartment in Barcelona and participate in the video game, to share their experiences in parallel. The experiences of each protagonist are expressed through variety of narrative approaches, including the use of drawings.

Given current interest in the U.S. of the themes of Ms. Ojeda’s work, a positive reception is likely. The novel would be embraced by readers fascinated by video games, by TOR, and by the most hidden corners of the deep web, as well as readers prepared to explore the physical and psychological aspects of the abuse of innocents, both children and animals. The novel is, without doubt, upsetting, but the reader’s effort is handsomely rewarded.

A strong translation into English of Nefando is certainly possible, and Ms. Ojeda’s exploration of suffering and the disturbing nature of deep web forums and games would be a worthwhile addition to the Spanish language literature offered to the U.S. reading public.

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