Poso Wells
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Poso Wells

3.55 (276 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author)  , Translated by 

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"Poso Wells is ironic, audacious, and fierce. But what is it, exactly? A satire? A scifi novel? A political detective yarn? Or the purest reality of contemporary Latin America. It's unclassifiable-as all great books are."-Samanta Schweblin, author of Fever Dream



"Poso Wells is brilliant, audacious, doubtlessly playful and at the same time so dark and bitter. A truly unforgettable book."-Alejandro Zambra, author of Multiple Choice



"The story is a condemnation not only of the corrupt businessmen and the criminal gangs that rule Poso Wells but also of the violence against women that plagues Latin America's real slums."-The New Yorker



"One part Thomas Pynchon, one part Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and one part Raymond Chandler, Aleman's novel contains mystery, horror, humor, absurdity, and political commentary ... A concoction of political thriller and absurdist literary mystery that never fails to entertain."-Kirkus Reviews



"A wild, successful satire of Ecuadorian politics and supernatural encounters. ... Aleman's singular voice keeps the ride fresh and satisfying."-Publishers Weekly



In the squalid settlement of Poso Wells, women have been regularly disappearing, but the authorities have shown little interest. When the leading presidential candidate comes to town, he and his entourage are electrocuted in a macabre accident witnessed by a throng of astonished spectators. The sole survivor-next in line for the presidency-inexplicably disappears from sight.



Gustavo Varas, a principled journalist, picks up the trail, which leads him into a violent, lawless underworld. Bella Altamirano, a fearless local, is on her own crusade to pierce the settlement's code of silence, ignoring repeated death threats. It turns out that the disappearance of the candidate and those of the women are intimately connected, and not just to a local crime wave, but to a multinational magnate's plan to plunder the country's cloud forest preserve.



More Praise for Poso Wells:



"By expertly weaving multiple narratives around the figure of Vinueza, the hapless (but wealthy!) presidential candidate who resembles so many corrupt (but wealthy!) presidential candidates in the modern history of Ecuador, Gabriela Aleman depicts with verve and humor the horrors and absurdities of a society intent on perpetuating itself."-Mauro Javier Cardenas, author of The Revolutionaries Try Again



"Gabriela Aleman has a rhythm worth watching ... she does something unexpected, things fly apart, she leaps into the void, and you think, 'there's no way she can pull this off'-but no, everything fits together, falls into place, flows, and the story goes on."-Pedro Mairal, author of The Missing Year of Juan Salvatierra



"This compulsively readable book is Gabriela Aleman's debut as a novelist in the English-language. Sparklingly original, full of dry wit, and deliciously suspenseful, Poso Wells could well earn Gabriela Aleman a cult following."-Jon Lee Anderson, author of Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life, Guerrillas: Journeys in the Insurgent World, and The Fall of Baghdad
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Product details

  • Paperback | 160 pages
  • 133 x 203 x 20.32mm | 181.44g
  • Monroe, OR, United States
  • English
  • 0872867552
  • 9780872867550
  • 1,370,005

Table of contents

Part One: The Cooperative of Poso Wells



I. The Candidate



II. Yesterday's Papers



III. The Hole



IV. The Scar



V. Waiting Forever for You



VI. Oracle Pinche Guey



VII. A Mass for the Dead



VIII. The Spur



Part Two: Amazonas and Naciones Unidas



IX. Press Conference



X. Minefields Express



XI. The Bottom of the Empty Glass



Part Three: The Cloud Forest



XII. Checkmate



XIII. The Prosecutor



XIV. The Sovereign People



XV. Without You ...
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Review Text

An ABA Summer/Fall 2018 Indies Introduce & August 2018 Indie Next Selection



"Poso Wells is ironic, audacious, and fierce. But what is it, exactly? A satire? A scifi novel? A political detective yarn? Or the purest reality of contemporary Latin America. It's unclassifiable-as all great books are."-Samanta Schweblin, author of Fever Dream



"Poso Wells is brilliant, audacious, doubtlessly playful and at the same time so dark and bitter. A truly unforgettable book."-Alejandro Zambra, author of Multiple Choice



"The story is a condemnation not only of the corrupt businessmen and the criminal gangs that rule Poso Wells but also of the violence against women that plagues Latin America's real slums."-The New Yorker



"One part Thomas Pynchon, one part Gabriel García Márquez, and one part Raymond Chandler, Alemán's novel contains mystery, horror, humor, absurdity, and political commentary ... A concoction of political thriller and absurdist literary mystery that never fails to entertain."-Kirkus Reviews



"Alemán's first novel to be translated into English is a wild, successful satire of Ecuadorian politics and supernatural encounters. ... Alemán's singular voice keeps the ride fresh and satisfying."-Publishers Weekly



"Alemán takes aim at the social, cultural and ecological woes that plague a country that has been plundered for centuries. ... Alemán is thoroughly Ecuadorian, but she's also steeped in comic books, Hollywood classics and H.G. Wells' fiction, including the short story 'The Country of the Blind,' which helped inspire some of the characters in Poso Wells. Dick Cluster, the translator, has fused the poetic with the tabloid and brought the work of one of Latin America's rising literary stars to readers in North America. Poso Wells can be read with pleasure in one long sitting and then reread for nuances and subtleties that surprise and entertain."-San Francisco Chronicle



"Alemán's voice, as translated from the Spanish by Dick Cluster, is fresh and deliciously absurd."-BBC



"Poso Wells is a perfect complement for the current political state of the United States and the hopelessness caused by constant access to terrible news via social media. The story speaks to the delusion and god complex involved in wanting to lead an entire nation and the destructive power of indifference and greed. It also touches on the silence behind the pervasive violence women encounter in their daily lives. Alemán has created a disturbing, absurd, at times heart-wrenching story about the atrocities committed by patriarchs in power and the difficulty in fighting against colonialism. If anything, Poso Wells is a book about perseverance and resilience. It speaks to the fight human beings have inside them when they feel powerless. Their power is in protesting historical, structural violence and existence as resistance."-World Literature Today



"Poso Wells explores the dichotomy between the new and old worlds of Ecuador through an exciting noir about missing women, corrupt politicians, and a journalist's attempt to unravel the secrets of the infinitely labyrinthine cityscape of Poso Wells. This is an exciting debut translation of a celebrated Ecuadorian author, and one that should lead to more translations of her work."-Ely Watson, A Room of One's Own Bookstore (Madison, WI)



"Poso Wells is a rare achievement in which a reader comes out the other end wanting to start again. It is a bold and clever tale with a unique voice, and it is poised to have a longstanding impression on readers for years to come."-Rebecca George, Volumes Bookcafe (Chicago, IL)



"A bizarre little satire that oscillates between adventure yarn and farce, one that pokes fun at modernity and the gross incompetence of the people in charge. A fun, funny, strange book that hits the gas pedal and never lets up."-Justin Souther, Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe (Asheville, NC)



"A town built on mud and garbage; a nefarious partnership between corrupt politicians, thugs, and business men; and a reporter investigating the disappearance of hundreds of women. Poso Wells is part satire and part detective story. It's unlike any book I've read in a long time, and I'll be recommending it to everyone I know."-Amy W., Powell's Books



"Through scalding wit and straight-faced parody this no-holds-barred absurdist adventure that seems more a movie than a book will have you laughing till you cry as the cruelty of its South American reality sinks in. Imagine a mix of Hunter S. Thompson and Gabriel García Márquez. A small masterpiece."-Michael Taussig, author of Beauty and the Beast



"Thriller and farce, Poso Wells is a magical realist sci-fi, a fierce and biting social allegory by turns hilarious and tragic, cynical and hopeful ... this is a twenty-first-century cautionary tale of the war between humanity and avarice ..."-Maria Agui Carter, director of Culture Shock and Rebel"



"Gabriela Alemán's Poso Wells drops the reader, as if dangling from a helicopter's ladder, into a riveting page-turner set in coastal Ecuador. Forces of global capitalism want to mine all that is profitable from the earth, no matter the consequences. By the end we're not sure if Jacob's ladder leads to heaven or hell. The upshot of Alemán's brilliant novel, however: for every rapacious action, there is an equal, opposite, and tenacious resistance."-Mauricio Kilwein Guevara, author of Autobiography of So-and-So: Poems in Prose



"Poso Wells is an intriguing name for a thrilling novel of politics, environmental destruction and wildly imaginative occurrences that slide right to the edge of reality. The landscape includes the threatened rape of a cloud forest, a collection of fantastical blind heroes, and a presidential candidate who pees himself to death on stage. The English translation is fast and clear as the story rolls towards its ending on a steaming volcano. The first English translation of noted Brazilian-Ecuadorian novelist, Gabriela Alemán. I hope that many more follow."-Stephen Williams, contributor to the New York Times, GQ, Newsweek



"Poso Wells is a darkly comedic, wildly energetic, and relentlessly intrepid bricolage of genres whose narration expertly cycles a unique roster of characters. ... Alemán blurs the typical lines of story, allowing Poso Wells a far reach to captivate a broad audience, and without a doubt it will."-Arkansas International



"Alemán's novel develops a series of bizarre events into a searingly lucid political conclusion. ... The political monsters of Poso Wells are contrasted by a couple of powerful female characters who refuse to let men bulldoze them (literally, at one point). They are women who carry scars and vipers and who know how to use them. They draw on their resourcefulness and on the strength of their gathered community to resist the frenzied destruction of their lives and homes. ... [Poso Wells is] an intriguing exploration of what drives people into action in a world that makes no sense."-Full Stop
show more

Review quote

An ABA Summer/Fall 2018 Indies Introduce & August 2018 Indie Next Selection


"Poso Wells is ironic, audacious, and fierce. But what is it, exactly? A satire? A scifi novel? A political detective yarn? Or the purest reality of contemporary Latin America. It's unclassifiable-as all great books are."-Samanta Schweblin, author of Fever Dream


"Poso Wells is brilliant, audacious, doubtlessly playful and at the same time so dark and bitter. A truly unforgettable book."-Alejandro Zambra, author of Multiple Choice


"The story is a condemnation not only of the corrupt businessmen and the criminal gangs that rule Poso Wells but also of the violence against women that plagues Latin America's real slums."-The New Yorker


"One part Thomas Pynchon, one part Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and one part Raymond Chandler, Aleman's novel contains mystery, horror, humor, absurdity, and political commentary ... A concoction of political thriller and absurdist literary mystery that never fails to entertain."-Kirkus Reviews


"Aleman's first novel to be translated into English is a wild, successful satire of Ecuadorian politics and supernatural encounters. ... Aleman's singular voice keeps the ride fresh and satisfying."-Publishers Weekly


"Aleman takes aim at the social, cultural and ecological woes that plague a country that has been plundered for centuries. ... Aleman is thoroughly Ecuadorian, but she's also steeped in comic books, Hollywood classics and H.G. Wells' fiction, including the short story 'The Country of the Blind,' which helped inspire some of the characters in Poso Wells. Dick Cluster, the translator, has fused the poetic with the tabloid and brought the work of one of Latin America's rising literary stars to readers in North America. Poso Wells can be read with pleasure in one long sitting and then reread for nuances and subtleties that surprise and entertain."-San Francisco Chronicle


"Aleman's voice, as translated from the Spanish by Dick Cluster, is fresh and deliciously absurd."-BBC


"Poso Wells is a perfect complement for the current political state of the United States and the hopelessness caused by constant access to terrible news via social media. The story speaks to the delusion and god complex involved in wanting to lead an entire nation and the destructive power of indifference and greed. It also touches on the silence behind the pervasive violence women encounter in their daily lives. Aleman has created a disturbing, absurd, at times heart-wrenching story about the atrocities committed by patriarchs in power and the difficulty in fighting against colonialism. If anything, Poso Wells is a book about perseverance and resilience. It speaks to the fight human beings have inside them when they feel powerless. Their power is in protesting historical, structural violence and existence as resistance."-World Literature Today


"Poso Wells explores the dichotomy between the new and old worlds of Ecuador through an exciting noir about missing women, corrupt politicians, and a journalist's attempt to unravel the secrets of the infinitely labyrinthine cityscape of Poso Wells. This is an exciting debut translation of a celebrated Ecuadorian author, and one that should lead to more translations of her work."-Ely Watson, A Room of One's Own Bookstore (Madison, WI)


"Poso Wells is a rare achievement in which a reader comes out the other end wanting to start again. It is a bold and clever tale with a unique voice, and it is poised to have a longstanding impression on readers for years to come."-Rebecca George, Volumes Bookcafe (Chicago, IL)


"A bizarre little satire that oscillates between adventure yarn and farce, one that pokes fun at modernity and the gross incompetence of the people in charge. A fun, funny, strange book that hits the gas pedal and never lets up."-Justin Souther, Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe (Asheville, NC)


"A town built on mud and garbage; a nefarious partnership between corrupt politicians, thugs, and business men; and a reporter investigating the disappearance of hundreds of women. Poso Wells is part satire and part detective story. It's unlike any book I've read in a long time, and I'll be recommending it to everyone I know."-Amy W., Powell's Books


"Through scalding wit and straight-faced parody this no-holds-barred absurdist adventure that seems more a movie than a book will have you laughing till you cry as the cruelty of its South American reality sinks in. Imagine a mix of Hunter S. Thompson and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. A small masterpiece."-Michael Taussig, author of Beauty and the Beast


"Thriller and farce, Poso Wells is a magical realist sci-fi, a fierce and biting social allegory by turns hilarious and tragic, cynical and hopeful ... this is a twenty-first-century cautionary tale of the war between humanity and avarice ..."-Maria Agui Carter, director of Culture Shock and Rebel"


"Gabriela Aleman's Poso Wells drops the reader, as if dangling from a helicopter's ladder, into a riveting page-turner set in coastal Ecuador. Forces of global capitalism want to mine all that is profitable from the earth, no matter the consequences. By the end we're not sure if Jacob's ladder leads to heaven or hell. The upshot of Aleman's brilliant novel, however: for every rapacious action, there is an equal, opposite, and tenacious resistance."-Mauricio Kilwein Guevara, author of Autobiography of So-and-So: Poems in Prose


"Poso Wells is an intriguing name for a thrilling novel of politics, environmental destruction and wildly imaginative occurrences that slide right to the edge of reality. The landscape includes the threatened rape of a cloud forest, a collection of fantastical blind heroes, and a presidential candidate who pees himself to death on stage. The English translation is fast and clear as the story rolls towards its ending on a steaming volcano. The first English translation of noted Brazilian-Ecuadorian novelist, Gabriela Aleman. I hope that many more follow."-Stephen Williams, contributor to the New York Times, GQ, Newsweek


"Poso Wells is a darkly comedic, wildly energetic, and relentlessly intrepid bricolage of genres whose narration expertly cycles a unique roster of characters. ... Aleman blurs the typical lines of story, allowing Poso Wells a far reach to captivate a broad audience, and without a doubt it will."-Arkansas International


"Aleman's novel develops a series of bizarre events into a searingly lucid political conclusion. ... The political monsters of Poso Wells are contrasted by a couple of powerful female characters who refuse to let men bulldoze them (literally, at one point). They are women who carry scars and vipers and who know how to use them. They draw on their resourcefulness and on the strength of their gathered community to resist the frenzied destruction of their lives and homes. ... [Poso Wells is] an intriguing exploration of what drives people into action in a world that makes no sense."-Full Stop
show more

About Gabriela Alemán

Gabriela Aleman, based in Quito, Ecuador, has played professional basketball in Switzerland and Paraguay and has worked as a waitress, administrator, translator, radio scriptwriter, and film studies professor. She received a PhD at Tulane University and holds a Master's degree in Latin American Literature from Universidad Andina Simon Bolivar. Her literary honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2006; member of Bogota 39, a 2007 selection of the most important up-and-coming writers in Latin America in the post-Boom generation; one of five finalists for the 2015 Premio Hispanoamericano de Cuento Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Colombia) for her story collection La muerte silba un blues; and winner of several prizes for critical essays on literature and film. Her other books include the short story collections, Maldito corazon, Zoom, Fuga permanente, and Album de familia; her novels in Spanish include Body Time, Poso Wells, and Humo. Her stories have appeared in anthologies in French, English, Chinese, Hebrew, and Serbo-Croatian. This is her first full-length work to appear in English.



Dick Cluster is a writer and translator living in Oakland, California. He is editor/translator of the recently released Kill the Ampaya!: Best Latin American Baseball Fiction, and co-author with Rafael Hernandez of History of Havana. His many published translations include fiction and poetry from the Caribbean, Chile, Mexico, Colombia, and Spain.
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Rating details

276 ratings
3.55 out of 5 stars
5 17% (46)
4 37% (102)
3 34% (95)
2 9% (25)
1 3% (8)
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