Bad girls

Camila Sosa Villada

Book - 2022

"Gritty and unflinching, yet also tender, fantastical, and funny, a trans woman's coming-of-age tale about finding a community among fellow outcasts. Born in the small Argentine town of Mina Clavero, Camila is designated male but begins to identify from an early age as a girl. She is well aware that she's different from other children and reacts to her oppressive, poverty-stricken home life, with a cowed mother and abusive, alcoholic father, by acting out-with swift consequences. ...Deeply intelligent, she eventually leaves for the city to attend university, slipping into prostitution to make ends meet. And in Sarmiento Park, in the heart of Córdoba, she discovers the strange, wonderful world of the trans sex workers who dwell there. Taken under the wing of Auntie Encarna, the 178-year-old eternal whose house shelters this unconventional extended family, Camila becomes a part of their stories-of a Headless Man who fled his country's wars, a mute young woman who transforms into a bird, an abandoned baby boy who brings a twinkle to your eye. Camila Sosa Villada's extraordinary first novel is a rich, nuanced portrait of a marginalized community: their romantic relationships, friendships and squabbles, difficulties at work, aspirations and disappointments. It bears witness to these lives constantly haunted by the specter of death-by disease or more violent means at the hands of customers, boyfriends, or the police-yet full of passion, empathy, and insight"--

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FICTION/Sosavill Camila
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Subjects
Genres
Fiction
Published
New York : Other Press [2022]
Language
English
Spanish
Item Description
Originally published in Spanish as Las malas in 2019.
Physical Description
xi, 192 pages : 22 cm
ISBN
9781635422023
1635422027
Main Author
Camila Sosa Villada (author)
Other Authors
Kit Maude (translator)
Review by Booklist Reviews

They call themselves "Travesti," rejecting the term transgender women. They are sex workers, the "bad girls" of the title. Set in Cordoba, Argentina, this is their story. It begins when Auntie Incarna finds an abandoned baby in the park where the Travesti ply their trade. She and her Travesti cohort take the baby to Auntie's home, the queerest boarding house in the world, where many of the women live as a family. The story of their lives is told by Camila, the youngest of the Travesti, who also tells about her terrible childhood, living, impoverished, with her uncaring mother and violently alcoholic father. While not losing sight of Auntie and the baby, she writes, too, of her own often-squalid adult life and of the experiences she has in a dangerous profession. The vividly realized book incorporates elements of magic realism: Auntie is 178 years old, for example, and one of the women transforms into a bird; another is a werewolf. Magic or not, it is an almost unbearably sad story, the saddest part of which, as Camila concludes, is that love never came. Copyright 2022 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Argentine actor and writer Villada debuts with a mystical if diffuse portrayal of travesti (trans women) sex workers in Córdoba, Argentina. Camila, 21, attends college by day and at night joins a group of tight-knit travestis in Sarmiento Park, servicing johns from all walks of life. After Auntie Encarna, the group's 178-year-old leader, finds an infant boy in a park ditch, she gets the other women to help her care for him. The novel is grounded by Camila and Auntie Encarna, but each chapter introduces new travestis. There is Deaf and mute Maria, who slowly turns into a bird, and La Machi, their medicine woman whose gravitas makes her an authority figure, among others. These portraits enrich a series of painful stories about the violence in the women's lives and point to a central tension, that travestis are both desired and despised by the world ("to punish us they say no one will want us. But life couldn't go on without us there," Camila narrates). While the chronicle finds strengths in its convincing characters, driven by sympathetic Camila, the disparate portraits and episodes don't all hang together. Still, Villada makes this thoroughly heartbreaking. (May.) Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"Gritty and unflinching, yet also tender, fantastical, and funny, a trans woman's coming-of-age tale about finding a community among fellow outcasts. Born in the small Argentine town of Mina Clavero, Camila is designated male but begins to identify from an early age as a girl. She is well aware that she's different from other children and reacts to her oppressive, poverty-stricken home life, with a cowed mother and abusive, alcoholic father, by acting out-with swift consequences. Deeply intelligent, she eventually leaves for the city to attend university, slipping into prostitution to make ends meet. And in Sarmiento Park, in the heart of Câordoba, she discovers the strange, wonderful world of the trans sex workers who dwell there. Taken under the wing of Auntie Encarna, the 178-year-old eternal whose house shelters this unconventional extended family, Camila becomes a part of their stories -- of a Headless Man who fled his country's wars, a mute young woman who transforms into a bird, an abandoned baby boy who brings a twinkle to your eye. Camila Sosa Villada's extraordinary first novel is a rich, nuanced portrait of a marginalized community: their romantic relationships, friendships and squabbles, difficulties at work, aspirations and disappointments. It bears witness to these lives constantly haunted by the specter of death -- by disease or more violent means at the hands of customers, boyfriends, or the police -- yet full of passion, empathy, and insight"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Sheltered in their leader’s house, a group of trans sex workers find a partial escape from the everyday threats of disease and violence while they each tell their stories, including Camila, an outcast who traces the life of this vibrant community throughout the 90s.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Gritty and unflinching, yet also tender, fantastical, and funny, a trans woman’s tale about finding a community on the margins.   In Sarmiento Park, the green heart of Córdoba, a group of trans sex workers make their nightly rounds. When a cry comes from the dark, their leader, the 178-year-old Auntie Encarna, wades into the brambles to investigate and discovers a baby half dead from the cold. She quickly rallies the pack to save him, and they adopt the child into their fascinating surrogate family as they have so many other outcasts, including Camila. Sheltered in Auntie Encarna’s fabled pink house, they find a partial escape from the everyday threats of disease and violence, at the hands of clients, cops, and boyfriends. Telling their stories—of a mute young woman who transforms into a bird, of a Headless Man who fled his country’s wars—as well as her own journey from a toxic home in a small, poor town, Camila traces the life of this vibrant community throughout the 90s. Imbuing reality with the magic of a dark fairy tale, Bad Girls offers an intimate, nuanced portrait of trans coming-of-age that captures a universal sense of the strangeness of our bodies. It grips and entertains us while also challenging ideas about love, sexuality, gender, and identity.