Welcome to the fictional city of Vacca Vale (Indiana), which leads, according to the magazine Newsweek, the annual list of “the 10 most dying American cities.” In a social housing building nicknamed La Conejera, lives an introverted young woman with the appearance of a nymph, “pretty, but in a way that was creepy.” It has been named after a German mystic, Blandine Watkins.and shares a flat with three misfits whom he met in the public adoptive family program.
Without revealing too much about the grandiose and violent ending of La Conejera, Tess Gunty’s first novel, published in Spanish by Sexto Piso, we can anticipate that the destiny of the enlightened Blandine will end up intersecting, in the most unusual way, with that of the son of a former child television star of the 50s, a blogger and influencer of mental health whose secret hobby is to smear his entire body with fluorescent liquidto enter the home of those he believes have offended him and scare them to death: “The fluorescent sticks baffled the security, but Moses shrugged his shoulders and said he was organizing a music festival,” we read about his landing at Chicago airport.
The former child star, Moses’ mother, has just died, leaving a laudatory obituary written by herself, which her not at all disconsolate son has completed with a comment so offensive that the moderator of descanseenpaz.com has had to delete it: “You would be surprised how cruel that people can be towards the dead,” declares the latter. In contrast, we will meet a woman named Hope, from a “disconcerting happiness”, who has just become a mother: her breasts have grown to “famous size”, and she is always aware of her baby, so much so that “she feels like she is a fox. “A fox on speed.”
The humor – black, incisive, hilarious – is in The Hutch a part of the whole that has been overlooked by most commentators since, in 2022, Tess Gunty took the National Book Award, the highest trophy in American Literature, along with the Pulitzer. Ce Santiago’s perfect translation helps us enjoy a constant, and very precise, play with the language that keeps us giggling, leading us to burst out laughing every now and then. Months after her triumph, the young writer, also born in a dying city in the Midwest – South Bend (Indiana), in 1993 -, receives us virtually at her home in Los Angeles, where she is attentive of the inevitable adaptation of The Hutchit is still not known whether it will be a film or a series, and about which, naturally, he cannot tell us much, beyond “that it will not be a standard adaptation, but rather the vision of the director we are talking to.” , which I find much more interesting.
Even more interesting is the five years it has taken him to compose the variety of voices, characters and textures that make up the 422 pages of The Hutch. Go from monologue to omniscient narrator, from self-obituary and his comments onlinewith their respective emojis, to a chapter entirely drawn by his brother Nicolas. It is an apparently chaotic polyphony which, however, flows and is most addictive, a puzzle of which it is not important to have all the pieces: «I write by associations of ideas, as in a dream, following a subconscious logic, because I believe that the subconscious is more interesting, honest and weaves relationships that he could not have consciously established. So the structure came very naturally, each of the characters would take me by the hand and introduce me to the next. The review process was very important to harmonize this ecosystem in which many different texts, textures and voices coexist. I spent two years working on the structure when I was two-thirds of the way through the book, eliminating hundreds of pages and adding new elements to make it all work.