Hebe Uhart’s stories sneak up on you. Refreshingly approachable, they are punctuated by street talk and saturated with a cryptic wit that recalls Lydia Davis. In The Scent of Buenos Aires, Uhart renders moments at the zoo, the hair salon, or a homeowners association meeting with delightfully eccentric insight. These stories cast an unusual, intimate light on the inner lives of plants, animals, and humans, magnifying the minute, everyday quirks of Argentina’s small towns: a cat curls around his owner to humor him, a classroom of children sway like trees when their teacher turns her back. Smiling to herself, Uhart reveals the infinite ways we show ourselves to one another.
A remarkable traveler and observer, Uhart pays close attention to the way people speak, how they move, and how they remain still. Considered to be one of the greatest contemporary Argentine writers, Uhart won the Manuel Rojas Iberian-American Award for literature in 2017. The Scent of Buenos Aires is the first collection of Uhart’s to be published in English, and Maureen Shaughnessy’s translation perfectly captures Uhart’s extraordinary world, one dappled with iridescent ivy and the small epiphanies of ordinary souls.