Umami (Paperback)

By Laia Jufresa, Sophie Hughes (Translator)

ONEWorld Publications, 9781780748924, 256pp.

Publication Date: September 12, 2017



Shortlisted for the Best Translated Book Award, Fiction, 2017

"Ms. Jufresa: Where the f*# did you learn to tell a story so well?" --Alvaro Enrigue, award-winning author of Sudden Death

As heard on NPR's Weekend Edition with Scott Simon

It started with a drowning.

Deep in the heart of Mexico City, where five houses cluster around a sun-drenched courtyard, lives Ana, a precocious twelve-year-old who spends her days buried in Agatha Christie novels to forget the mysterious death of her little sister years earlier. Over the summer she decides to plant a milpa in her backyard, and as she digs the ground and plants her seeds, her neighbors in turn delve into their past. The ripple effects of grief, childlessness, illness and displacement saturate their stories, secrets seep out and questions emerge -- Who was my wife? Why did my Mom leave? Can I turn back the clock? And how could a girl who knew how to swim drown?

In prose that is dazzlingly inventive, funny and tender, Laia Jufresa immerses us in the troubled lives of her narrators, deftly unpicking their stories to offer a darkly comic portrait of contemporary Mexico, as whimsical as it is heart-wrenching.

About the Author

Laia Jufresa was born in Mexico City. Laia's work has been featured in several anthologies and magazines such as Letras Libres, Pen Atlas, Words Without Borders and McSweeney's, and she was named one of the most outstanding young writers in Mexico as part of the project Mexico20. In 2015 she was invited by the British Council to be the first ever International Writer in Residence at the Hay Festival of Literature. She currently lives in Cologne, Germany. Sophie Hughes is a literary translator and editor living in Mexico City.