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Clean (Limpia)

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

"One of the most powerful voices of current Chilean literature. [...] Deliciously distressing, addictive, Limpia portrays the world of our everyday life that can turn into a storm for those who are fragile [...]Alia Trabucco Zerán’s writing arises from a mixture of observation, imagination, intuition and thought. Yet at the same time she allows herself to be carried away by the freedom of the trade." Rocio Montes, Babelia

"Overwhelming, [...] tragic and essential." Ana Breton, El Mundo

"Those who read Limpia are met with life looking straight at them, stripped of any mask and without the option to look the other way. It is honest in its reflections, direct in its tone, sincere in its statements and enriching in the appeals it makes. (…) A novel that gives you no escape [...] Acidic, intelligent, coherent and authentic." Laura García Higueras, El Diario

"A story of alienation and power: [...] Alia Trabucco explores the unhappiness and dissatisfaction of adults. [...] A twist on brutality provides a territory for reflection." Karina Sainz Borgo, ABC Cultural

"Each book of hers is radically different, as if Trabucco, instead of looking for an exacerbation of her style, wanted to settle into a permanent scriptural imbalance. Her obsessions: the urgency of memory and the passionate search for the future, feminist discussion, anger as a political tool, understanding personal stories as social stories, poetic and thinking work from language." Giuseppe Caputo, El Tiempo

"Limpia is a tense novel, and Trabucco uses that carefully concocted tension to portray the everlasting class struggle." Maria Paredes, The Objective

"With the strength of an indomitable voice, Alia Trabucco Zerán creates with Limpia a very lucid, ruthless and brutal novel". Federico Falco 

"In this dazzling and overwhelming novel, Alia Trabucco Zerán lifts the veil on the long literary tradition of the Chilean house employee to peek into the cruelty and the true horror of the condition, to reorganise the perverse journey taken by affections and class hatreds in order to look for an irreversible transformation." Lina Meruane

Publisher: Lumen (PRH)
Territories: Brazil: Fósforo; China: The Writers Publishing House; Denmark: Gutkind; France: Laffont; Germany: Hanser; Greece: Gutenberg; Iceland: Benedikt; Italy: SUR; Netherlands: Meulenhoff; Norway: Bonniers Norsk; Poland: Czarne; Portugal: Elsinore/PRH; Sweden: Wahlstrom & Widstrand; Turkey: Ayriksi; US: Riverhead; UK: Fourth Estate
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