The Scent of Buenos Aires


Translated from by

Published: Coming October 2019


ISBN: 9781939810342
This item will be released on October 14, 2019.
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Book Description

By one of Argentina’s greatest contemporary storytellers, The Scent of Buenos Aires gathers twenty-five of Hebe Uhart’s most remarkable and incandescent short stories in English for the first time.

It draws together her best vignettes of quotidian life: moments at the zoo, the hair salon, or a cacophonous homeowners association meeting. She writes in unconventional, understated syntax, constructing a delightfully specific perspective on life in South America. These stories are marked by sharp humor and wit: discrete and subtle, yet filled with eccentric and insightful characters. Uhart’s narrators pose endearing questions about their lives and environments – one asks “Bees – do you know how industrious they are?” while another inquires, “Are we perhaps going to hell in a hand basket?”

Hebe Uhart’s world is dappled by iridescent ivy and conversations with animals. She pays attention to the way real people speak, attune to how characters move when they walk, or how they remain still. The result is an intimate, peculiar portrait of the always strange minutiae of these personalities.

Hebe approached her subjects from an astonished and oblique angle that, at first, might appear naive. Not so. Her short stories feature protagonists rarely seen in Argentine literature ... Always rescuing the voices that no one pays attention to, yet not at all in a pompous way, for, if there was one thing that Hebe Uhart never wanted to do, it was to fall into the common position of giving voice to the voiceless and other slogans that she would consider idiotic.
Mariana Enriquez, (translated by Robert Croll) Página/12

Hebe Uhart’s characters are made of an almost palpable material. They are alive, and they seem to emerge from the page to tell us, “This one here is me, that one over there could be you.

Alejandra Costamagna, The Paris Review

How we move, how we walk, how we keep quiet: that is what Uhart observes in each of us. But also how we pause, how we sneeze, what onomatopoeias we use, how our being is revealed through everyday gestures that at times can contradict the ideas we claim to hold. It’s through these minute observations, and her repudiation of generalities, that the writer unfurls her tentacles to construct her characters.

Alejandra Costamagna, The Paris Review

Hebe is the best and the strangest. After decades of writing and publishing, Hebe became an author that dominated a central genre for the Argentine tradition: the short story. However, this has the geographic particularity of being transnational: when we think about stories in Argentina, we think about literature created in the Río de la Plata, between Argentina and Uruguay. And that was one of the strongest nuclei in Hebe’s literary identity, by which it was not a national but an inherently rioplatense literature.

Inés Acevedo, La Agenda

The greatest contemporary Argentine writer.

Rodolfo Enrique Fogwill

Hebe's texts (her fiction as well as her chronicles) played with the world in a manner that didn't fully coincide with Viktor Shklovsky’s definition of defamiliarization, that disposition of finding the strange and the unfamiliar within the quotidian. This is perhaps because the quotidian perception of Hebe Uhart in the world was, in itself, lacking automatization from the beginning, being always full of amazement, of a cultivated sense of bewilderment. That register was then translated to her texts through a writing that was ingeniously natural, with a simplicity that was only simulated.

Martín Kohan, Perfil

Her writing is so simple that it sometimes seems like it’s meant for children. But from simplicity to simplicity her reader penetrates into depths and labyrinths that one can only access when participating in the magic of a new world... It reveals a unique reality, or the fact that she, herself, is a unique and different reality.

Haroldo Conti

The world of Hebe Uhart, which so intensely appears in her stories, is abundant, collective and absolutely personal ... She has given Argentine Literature countless unforgettable, exciting characters that establish, when talking or acting, when having certain feelings over others, a way of existing, of resisting, of withstanding.

Elvio E. Gandolfo, Eterna Cadencia

Her short stories and vignettes from daily life shimmer with truth...Fans of writers from Alice Munro to William Trevor will find Uhart's work, whenever it appears in English, a delight.

Samuel Rutter, The Arkansas International

Hebe Uhart is one of Argentina's finest storytellers.

Asymptote Journal

  • Read this profile in Spanish by writers Mariana Enríquez and Eduardo Carrera on Hebe Uhart, her literary career, and her history in the world of letters.
  • Revisit Hebe’s words in her 2017 speech after winning the Manuel Rojas Prize.