Being translated into English by Sophie Hughes
This is the story of Estela, a domestic servant torn between her working life in the city and the memory of home, between her disgust for her ostentatious and troubled employers – at whose hands she suffers daily indignities – and her unsolved affection for them. When tragedy strikes in the home, previously unspoken class conflicts explode.
LIMPIA is a literary exploration of the complex set of emotions involved in domestic work relationships. The novel begins with an inescapable fact: a girl has died. From there it explores, in a fictional first-person account, Estela’s daily routine and shows how her apparently simple life turns into a repetitive and ultimately violent nightmare. Constructed in a circular way (the novel starts at the point where it ends), LIMPIA allows us to enter the intimacy of a home, the power relations that are established there and shows us how invisible and neglected this woman subjected to the "live in maid" regime is. In the tradition of "dirty realism", she talks about the family she looks after, the mother she left behind in the countryside, the loneliness so deep that her closest relationship is with a stray dog who comes to the house regularly. Her emotional detachment coupled with her anger and her exhaustion propel us forward to the heart of the novel, what happened to the child. Reminiscent of Jean Genet’s THE MAIDS, Leila Slimani’s LULLABY and of Alfonso Cuarón’s film ROMA, LIMPIA is an astonishing, electrifying novel.
“What a spellbinding nightmare Alia Trabucco Zerán has written. A biting, addictive portrait of the rot ‘good families’ conceal.” - Fernanda Melchor
“This story is the exact metaphor of our greatest wound: the division of the world between those who live for themselves and those who live for others. Alia Trabucco Zerán has written a brilliant novel, based on the monologue of a woman whose only possession is her voice, a voice that is fading while a whole country is waking up” - Emiliano Monge
"In this dazzling and overwhelming novel, Alia Trabucco Zerán lifts the apron on the long literary tradition of the Chilean employee to look at the cruelty involved, the true horror, and to shed a new light on the perverse path of class-related affections and hatreds” - Lina Meruane
"With the force of an indomitable voice, Alia Trabucco Zerán delivers a lucid, ruthless and brutal novel in CLEAN." - Federico Falco