The Iliac Crest Cover Image
Cristina Rivera Garza

The Iliac Crest

On a dark and stormy night, an unnamed narrator is visited by two women: one a former lover, the other a stranger. They ruthlessly question their host and claim to know his greatest secret: that he is, in fact, a woman. In increasingly desperate attempts to defend his masculinity, perplexed by the stranger’s dubious claims to be the writer Amparo Dávila, he finds himself spiralling deeper into a haunted past that may or may not be his own.

This surreal novel enfolds a masterful exploration of gender in taut, atmospheric mystery.

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More Info

  • Read an interview with Cristina Rivera Garza in The Millions.
  • Read The Unusual, Cristina Rivera Garza’s manifesto on women authors for Pen Transmissions.
  • Read Cristina Rivera Garza’s short story for the Paris Review, ‘Simple Pleasure. Pure Pleasure.’ (£)
  • The Iliac Crest was chosen by Publishers Weekly fiction editor Gabe Habash as one of his six favourite books of 2017:

Gabe Habash 2017 Favourite Books Tweet



Print status: Available
Translator: Sarah Booker
Original language: Spanish
Format: B-format paperback
Publication date: 7 June 2018
ISBN: 9781911508267
Ebook ISBN: 9781911508274
Availability: UK, Europe and Commonwealth (excl. Canada)
Number of pages: 144


Los Angeles Review of Books

‘Enigmatic. . . . a joy to behold.’

Publishers Weekly, starred review

‘Rivera Garza’s novel succeeds as a suspenseful psychological horror story in the vein of a David Lynch film or Ingmar Bergman’s Persona, as a dissolver of the space between genders, and as a challenge to the cultural erasure of the real-life Dávila. The result is mind-bending.’

Samantha Hunt

‘Like the ocean itself, Cristina Rivera Garza writes a world where borders shift and dissolve. In the curves of the fantastic, the highest realism is born. This world is weird. This world is so deeply true. I love this wholly perfect book.’

Yuri Herrera

‘An intelligent, beautiful story about bodies disguised as a story about language disguised as a story about night terrors. Cristina Rivera Garza does not respect what is expected of a writer, of a novel, of language. She is an agitator.’

Latino Book Review 

‘Cristina Rivera Garza fills every chapter with suspense and nonstop mystery. Nonetheless, the plot is not centred in resolving these mysteries, but rather, it provides the reader a mind-bending journey filled with symbolism and a reality that follows its own rules of logic’

The Millions

‘One of the most fascinating novels I’ve read in years—utterly weird yet deeply resonant in its portrayal of gendered violence.’

The Riveter

‘Symbolism abounds in the book; again, there great depths one could dig through, and The Iliac Crest could easily be read over and with new discoveries. Garza’s writing is gorgeous and precise, tying the various aspects of the book together into what is, at its core, a strange and unforgettable read.’

Shelf Awareness

'Although modest in length, Garza's creative piece is a complex puzzle that might take multiple readings to unravel fully... Despite the novel's brevity, Booker's translation makes clear the intricate and delicate poetic dance Garza crafts among the three main characters.'

Music & Literature

'The Iliac Crest carries out a sophisticated, dynamic inquiry into language, gender, and power, and leaves its readers transformed by its lyrical investigation of what it means to inhabit a body.'

Center for the Art of Translation

'[A] haunting, brilliant novel'

The Quarterly Conversation

'It seems to contain a multitude of novels, exploring a multitude of realities, experienced simultaneously. The result is exhilarating.'

Elena Poniatowska

‘A key work of Mexican literature.’

Kirkus Reviews

‘Rivera Garza’s taut language drives the mystery forward, and she plays cleverly with the literary and political histories of Mexico, the importance of queer visibility, and the silencing of female authorship. An existential gothic tale about the high stakes of understanding—and accepting—the self.’

Christian Lisseman
Big Issue in the North

‘[Playing] with issues of gender, insanity, violence against women and life at the borders . . . this is an engaging, haunting story about what it is to name and be named.’

Kirstyn Smith
The Skinny

‘Garza has a flair for describing intense pleasure . . . blur[ring] the line between sanity and insanity. . . in this fever dream of a story.’

Lina Meruane

‘Warning: Cristina Rivera Garza is an explosive writer yet to be fully accounted for in English. An insubordinate stylist, a skilled creator of atmospheric and haunting language, The Iliac Crest is a willfully queer piece where the workings of her wild imagination destabilize everything.’