Translated from by ,

Published: October 24, 2023





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Book Description

January is the story of a 16-year-old farmworker named Nefer. In the Argentine pampas, all things bow to Nefer. Reeds nod when she digs her heels into her horse, unripe peaches snap and fall as she gallops past. Sickly-sweet air bends, churns in Nefer’s throat. Nefer measures the distance between her body and the table, and feels something filling her up, turning against her. Her belly swells. Desperate, Nefer visits a local medicine woman who is known to perform abortions but Nefer becomes too afraid to explain why she is truly there. She attends confession at church but cannot confide in the priest. During a fierce argument with her mother, she finally blurts out her secret. A radical feminist text, January was the first Argentine novel to represent rape from the survivor’s perspective and to explore the life-threatening risks pregnancy posed in a society where abortion was both outlawed and taboo. With a narcotic musicality and voice scorched through with honesty, Gallardo hangs before us an experience that has been lived and ignored a thousand times over. Nefer closes her eyes. We careen to her and we see.

A crystalline and tightly-wound story of a young woman's tenacious desire for her own freedom and the rigid, Catholic community that is unable to recognize her as a full human being. Elegant and forceful--I couldn't put it down.
Catherine Lacey, author of Biography of X

A writer of terrifying intelligence . . . Gallardo’s scorn for the paternalism of an economic system in which the rich control even the souls of the poor is understated but vicious . . . [Nefer's] world is striking for its isolation, which only grows when her family learns of her pregnancy. Lonelier than ever, Nefer begins for the first time to feel tenderly toward her fetus, who is, after all, her only “companion in a private world.” But the feeling passes; soon she is once again hoping to be rid of it. The reader holds her breath.
S.C. Cornell, The New Yorker

The magnificent English-language debut from Argentine writer Gallardo (1931–1988), first published in 1958, portrays a 16-year-old girl’s dilemma after she gets pregnant... The subtle workings of the story cleverly mirror the characters’ euphemistic dialogue about pregnancy (a relative asks if Nefer’s recently married oldest sister is “in the family way”), and Gallardo’s restraint makes the occasional moments of swelling emotion even more powerful. This deserves to be a classic.
Publishers Weekly, starred review

One of my favorite Argentinian authors.
Samanta Schweblin

This début novel—by an acclaimed Argentinean writer, and first published in 1958—centers on a sixteen-year-old who becomes pregnant after an assault by an older man. Setting the story in the sweltering heat of Argentina’s Pampas, Gallardo re-creates the world of ranchers and missionaries from the perspective of the girl, with her adolescent confusion and private sense of guilt. Gallardo juxtaposes her solitary desperation—she visits a local medicine woman for an abortion, and gallops recklessly on horseback to induce a miscarriage—with the conservative Catholic society that closes ranks against her.
The New Yorker

Sara Gallardo’s work possesses such radical originality it would be most appropriate to categorize it with the kind of literature that doesn’t seem like anything else, that doesn't even fit the canon of the established heterodoxy, and that will always be read as a discovery.
Martín Kohan

Unwanted pregnancy, the original horror story, is rendered here with perfect banality, urgency, and dread: the complete nightmare of being trapped in a body subject to both arbitrary social rules and the ruthless passage of time.
Elisa Albert

January is intensely—and often heartbreakingly—realistic...Riddle and Shaughnessy render Nefer’s terrible despair with stark beauty.
Cory Oldweiler, Southwest Review

Sara Gallardo's story bursts with intensity, as a young country girl in Argentina confronts the dreadful fact of an unwanted pregnancy. In her desperation, she sees the landscape, her family, her neighbors, become a phantasmagoric world filled with terror. Nefer's sensitive consciousness is the lens through which we view her situation, as well as the village life surrounding her, all transformed by dread. This is an exciting, unusual excursion into the mind of a girl whose future has suddenly become a nightmare.
Lynne Sharon Schwartz

Regarded now as a radical feminist triumph, this fearless co-translation by Frances Riddle and Maureen Shaughnessy, the first in English, makes no concessions to soften Gallardo’s stark prose . . . What makes January’s intimate, third-person perspective so eviscerating is that her interiority, centered around the subjective experiences of the violence done to her, allows for a whiff of recognition of Nefer’s humanity, as flawed, as injured, and personal.
Samantha Kathryn O'Brien, The Rumpus

Sara Gallardo's perfect pitch harmonizes with marginalized voices such as Nefer's without ever reducing them to victims. A unique example of rebellious prose and subtlety.
María Sonia Cristoff

In 1958, when Sara Gallardo shared January with the world, it was the first Argentine novel to depict the topics of rape, pregnancy, and abortion in a feminist manner: from the perspective of the survivor. Today, Archipelago Books' English edition, translated by Frances Riddle and Maureen Shaughnessy, will once again resonate with readers in our current turmoil around reproductive rights.
Gagosian Quarterly

Rightfully considered a masterpiece of Argentinean literature... a powerful examination of class, gender and societal pressure . . . A tour-de-force.
Leo Boix, Morning Star

In less than 120 pages, January offers a vivid, internalized account of a young woman facing impossible odds... [January] shows a clear sensitivity to the social dynamics impacting disadvantaged rural communities and the suffocating influence of the Catholic mission churches. But beyond the constraints of her time, it is Nefer’s private horror, as reflected in her relationship to other people and to the natural environment, that makes this such a compelling—and timeless—read.
Joseph Schreiber, Rough Ghosts

Hair-raisingly good . . . the plot explodes . . . In January, Nefer’s dignity and autonomy don’t hinge, ultimately, on whether or not she continues her pregnancy. They hinge on whether she gets to decide.
Lily Meyer, The New York Review of Books

[January], along with Annie Erneaux’s vital book, Happening, and movies such as Portrait of a Lady on Fire, show us the importance of support, and the dangers that come when abortions are sought through sketchy means . . . I’m so grateful for the work Riddle and Shaughnessy have done on the translation. I recommend this book to everyone.
Tracey Ann Thompson, California Reading

Gallardo tells us an excellent story of an unfortunate young woman who, through no fault of her own, is pregnant and has no idea what to do or who to turn to for help.
The Modern Novel