Claudia Hernández

Slash and Burn

Shortlisted for the 2022 Queen Sofía Spanish Institute Translation Prize

Shortlisted for the Premio Valle-Inclan prize for its translation

Through war and its aftermaths, a woman fights to keep her daughters safe.

As a girl she sees her village sacked and her beloved father and brothers flee. Her life in danger, she joins the rebellion in the hills, where her comrades force her to give up the baby she conceives. Years later, having outlived countless men, she leaves to find her lost daughter, travelling across the Atlantic with meagre resources. She returns to a community riven with distrust, fear and hypocrisy in the wake the revolution.

Hernandez’ narrators have the level gaze of ordinary women reckoning with extraordinary hardship. Denouncing the ruthless machismo of combat with quiet intelligence, Slash and Burn creates a suspenseful, slow-burning revelation of rural life in the aftermath of political trauma.

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Print status: Available
Translator: Julia Sanches
Original language: Spanish
Format: B-format paperback
Publication date: 5 January 2021
ISBN: 9781911508823
Ebook ISBN: 9781911508830
Availability: World English
Number of pages: 320


John Self
The Guardian

'An intensive reading experience . . . What Slash and Burn – named after a method of agriculture both destructive and regenerative – shows is the difficulty of creating a new life after war or other trauma.​​'  

Lucy Popescu
The Observer

‘A brilliant evocation of civil war and its bitter legacy.’

Morning Star

Slash and Burn investigates with brilliance and compassion the depth of desolation, violence and loss the civil conflict inflicted on a scarred society.’

Sounds and Colours

‘This is a book that uses indirect narration to create accounts that are both detailed and expansive, putting the personal first but speaking for the collective and from a more vulnerable part of society, really demonstrating the multi-layered meaning of being a survivor.’  

John Gibler

‘An indictment of the inherent misogyny of war and an homage to the women who tirelessly fight for justice and survival on all fronts. But hers is not simply a literature of denunciation, for in the same pages she shows, with fierce heart, the ways women refuse to be crushed, the sometimes broken ways they manage to take care of each other and struggle to survive.’

Philippe Sands

‘Extraordinary and utterly gripping, a work of brutally profound beauty and universal significance’

Julianne Pachico

‘What does it truly mean to be at peace following a war? Slash and Burn is a deeply thoughtful and empathetic examination of how a civil war is inherited, and how it affects subsequent generations of women. Stylistically brave and thematically bold, it is essential, necessary reading for understanding the transition from combatant to civilian, and what historical and national trauma look like on a personal level.’

Lina Meruane

‘After reading far too many books about the Central American guerrilla told by and about men, I welcome this terrific novel that delves into the stories of women who come of age during and after war. In Slash and Burn, the aspirations, labour and education of women, as well as motherhood, love, reconciliation and exile, are tied together in sharp, profound prose you can't stop reading.’

Yuri Herrera

‘It is astonishing that someone can write in such a clean and transparent way about a turbulent past. Claudia Hernández's prose is the controlled breathing of someone who knows that memory is another battlefield. Claudia Hernández, like her protagonists, lucid and tough women, knows how to cross these battlefields. Slash and Burn confirms that she is one of the best writers in our language.’

Horacio Castellanos Moya

‘Claudia Hernández is one of the most groundbreaking short story writers from Central America, with a way of approaching the story that is closer to Virgilio Piñera o Felisberto Hernández than to the realist tradition. Her five story collections prove this. Now, with her first novel, Claudia Hernández takes on a new challenge: telling the recent history of El Salvador through three generations of women scarred by civil war, poverty and emigration. A pulsating feminine universe, full of energy and courage, despite the permanent threat of violence that surrounds it. An intense and moving novel, and a very intriguing way of storytelling that will captivate the reader.’

Ryan Gattis

‘Slash and Burn is an incisive look into the lasting wounds of El Salvador's Civil War. It is a tale of generational healing and resilience centred on its women. Hernández is a calm, cutting voice on how what is broken must be put back together.’

Gabriela Alemán

‘Slash and Burn reimagines the country through the voices of mothers, daughters and wives. The female gaze cuts sharp in this retelling.’

Mauro Javier Cardenas

‘Claudia Hernández's extraordinary novel Slash and Burn has an embattled, unsentimental narrative style, with swift shifts of point of view to voices that are often telling her characters what isn’t possible, and a future tense that dramatizes the (im)possibilities for her and her family. Slash and Burn is destined to become a classic.’

The Spanish Bookstage, “Weekly Choice”

‘There is a surreal, dreamlike quality to this challenging story. Devoid of names or places, it abounds with memories of violence told in a third-person bordering on the first, both because of the randomness of events depicted and the naivety and warmth of the language that recounts the almost child-like aspects of the war, always through eyes and a voice that are, above all, feminine.’