A woman keeps her daughters safe in the wake of war and political trauma in Central and Latin America.Shortlisted for the 2022 Queen Sofía Spanish Institute Translation Prize Shortlisted for the Premio Valle-Inclan prize for its translation Through war and its aftermaths, a woman fights to keep her daughters safe. Like peasants through the ages, she desperately slashes and burns in order to make a place for her children to return to. A country girl sees her village sacked and her beloved father disappeared. She is taken to the mountains to join the guerrillas, who force her to give up the baby she conceives. Surviving the rebellion, and now a woman, she sets out to find her daughter, travelling across the Atlantic with meagre resources. She returns to a community in which civilians, the militia and the ex-guerrilla fighters have to live together in a society riddled with distrust, fear and hypocrisy. Hernandez's narrators have the level gaze of ordinary women reckoning with extraordinary hardship. Denouncing the ruthless machismo of combat with quiet intelligence, Slash and Burn creates a suspenseful, slow-burning revelation of rural life in the aftermath of political trauma.
'An intensive reading experience . . . What Slash and Burn - named after a method of agriculture both destructive and regenerative - shows is the difficulty of creating a new life after war or other trauma.' John Self, The Guardian----'A brilliant evocation of civil war and its bitter legacy.' Lucy Popescu, The Observer----'Slash and Burn investigates with brilliance and compassion the depth of desolation, violence and loss the civil conflict inflicted on a scarred society.' Morning Star----'This is a book that uses indirect narration to create accounts that are both detailed and expansive, putting the personal first but speaking for the collective and from a more vulnerable part of society, really demonstrating the multi-layered meaning of being a survivor.' Sounds and Colours----'An indictment of the inherent misogyny of war and an homage to the women who tirelessly fight for justice and survival on all fronts. But hers is not simply a literature of denunciation, for in the same pages she shows, with fierce heart, the ways women refuse to be crushed, the sometimes broken ways they manage to take care of each other and struggle to survive.' John Gibler----'Extraordinary and utterly gripping, a work of brutally profound beauty and universal significance.' Philippe Sands----'What does it truly mean to be at peace following a war? Slash and Burn is a deeply thoughtful and empathetic examination of how a civil war is inherited, and how it affects subsequent generations of women. Stylistically brave and thematically bold, it is essential, necessary reading for understanding the transition from combatant to civilian, and what historical and national trauma look like on a personal level.' Julianne Pachico----'After reading far too many books about the Central American guerrilla told by and about men, I welcome this terrific novel that delves into the stories of women who come of age during and after war. In Slash and Burn, the aspirations, labour and education of women, as well as motherhood, love, reconciliation and exile, are tied together in sharp, profound prose you can't stop reading.' Lina Meruane----'It is astonishing that someone can write in such a clean and transparent way about a turbulent past. Claudia Hernandez's prose is the controlled breathing of someone who knows that memory is another battlefield. Claudia Hernandez, like her protagonists, lucid and tough women, knows how to cross these battlefields. Slash and Burn confirms that she is one of the best writers in our language.' Yuri Herrera----'Claudia Hernandez is one of the most groundbreaking short story writers from Central America, with a way of approaching the story that is closer to Virgilio Pinera o Felisberto Hernandez than to the realist tradition. Her five story collections prove this. Now, with her first novel, Claudia Hernandez takes on a new challenge: telling the recent history of El Salvador through three generations of women scarred by civil war, poverty and emigration. A pulsating feminine universe, full of energy and courage, despite the permanent threat of violence that surrounds it. An intense and moving novel, and a very intriguing way of storytelling that will captivate the reader.' Horacio Castellanos Moya----'Slash and Burn is an incisive look into the lasting wounds of El Salvador's Civil War. It is a tale of generational healing and resilience centred on its women. Hernandez is a calm, cutting voice on how what is broken must be put back together.' Ryan Gattis----'Slash and Burn reimagines the country through the voices of mothers, daughters and wives. The female gaze cuts sharp in this retelling.' Gabriela Aleman----'Claudia Hernandez's extraordinary novel Slash and Burn has an embattled, unsentimental narrative style, with swift shifts of point of view to voices that are often telling her characters what isn't possible, and a future tense that dramatizes the (im)possibilities for her and her family. Slash and Burn is destined to become a classic.' Mauro Javier Cardenas----'There is a surreal, dreamlike quality to this challenging story. . . it abounds with memories of violence told in a third person bordering on the first, both because of the randomness of events depicted and the naivety and warmth of the language that recounts the almost childlike aspects of the war, always through eyes and a voice that are, above all, feminine.' The Spanish Bookstage, "Weekly Choice"