Michael Zapata recommends Claudia Hernández’s They Have Fired Her Again (Sangría,  bilingual edition, 2016)

“Jobs are not big enough for people,” the historian Studs Terkel once described the nature of work. In Claudia Hernández’s enigmatic and transgressive novella They Have Fired Her Again, expertly translated by Aarón Lacayo, a Salvadoran immigrant named Lourdes, living in New York City, navigates the ever-exhausting, ever-shifting labyrinth of North American labor. The novella is brilliantly narrated by Lourdes’s hustling and attentive coworkers who act as a chorus in unbroken dialogue. As Lourdes goes from job to job—including waiting tables, retail sales, and housekeeping—they observe that she is followed by a Borges-like bestiary: a little crystalline dog, a shadow cat, a motmot bird, a light moth, a wolf of stone (the cryptids’ pursuit as much an act of liberation as it is ominous). Indigenous myths follow their myth holders north to take them back home. Still, the empire’s true capital transfixes with its own somnambulant struggles and cheap opportunities. “I prefer not to go outside when the winds begin to blow like right now because I feel that one of those animals can appear in front of me those that pull me away from where I’m at and take me now that things are going well with the jobs I got.” We are so much more than our labor, I kept thinking as I read, but how can we make it so? Claudia Hernández belongs to a rich generation of young Latin American writers, including Yuri Herrera, Samantha Schweblin, and Liliana Colanzi, who have irradiated the very concepts of genre and story. Through her eyes, our lives, our work, and the literature that transcends each blink in and out of existence

Michael Zapata is a founding editor of MAKE Literary Magazine and the author of the novel The Lost Book of Adana Moreau. He is the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Award for Fiction, the City of Chicago DCASE Individual Artist Program award, and a Pushcart nomination. As an educator, he taught literature and writing in high schools servicing dropout students. He is a graduate of the University of Iowa and has lived in New Orleans, Italy, and Ecuador. He currently lives in Chicago with his family