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The Adventures of China Iron - Gabriela Cabezon Camara

The Adventures of China Iron

By: Gabriela Cabezon Camara, Iona Macintyre (Translator), Fiona Macintosh (Translator)

Paperback | 25 May 2023

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I took off my dress and the petticoats and I put on the Englishman's breeches and shirt. I put on his neckerchief and asked Liz to take the scissors and cut my hair short. My plait fell to the ground and there I was, a young lad. Good boy she said to me, then pulled my face towards her and kissed me on the mouth. It surprised me, I didn't understand, I didn't know you could do that and it was revealed to me so naturally: why wouldn't you be able to do that? Liz's imperious tongue entered my mouth, her spicy, flowery saliva tasted like curry and tea and lavender water.

1872. The pampas of Argentina. China is a young woman eking out an existence in a remote gaucho encampment. After her no-good husband is conscripted into the army, China bolts for freedom, setting off on a wagon journey through the pampas in the company of her new-found friend Liz, a settler from Scotland. While Liz provides China with a sentimental education and schools her in the nefarious ways of the British Empire, their eyes are opened to the wonders of Argentina's richly diverse flora and fauna, cultures and languages, as well as to the ruthless violence involved in nation-building.

This subversive retelling of Argentina's foundational gaucho epic Martin Fierro is a celebration of the colour and movement of the living world, the open road, love and sex, and the dream of lasting freedom. With humour and sophistication, Gabriela Cabezon Camara has created a joyful, hallucinatory novel that is also an incisive critique of national myths.

Industry Reviews

International Booker Prize (Shortlist)

"A thrilling and mystical miniature epic." -The Guardian

"[The Adventures of China Iron] reminds us, in Cabezon Camara's entrancing poetry, how magical and frankly unpleasant it is to live through history." -New York Times

"[The Adventures of China Iron] compels readers to examine critically not only the biases of the myths we celebrate, but also how they seep into our contemporary understandings of nationhood." -LA Review of Books

"Brilliantly translated by Fiona Mackintosh and Iona Macintyre, this is a heartfelt, dreamlike paean to Argentina's past and what might have been had the pampas been left alone." -The Times Literary Supplement

"Cabezon Camara's exciting LGBTQ look at pioneers of the pampas makes for a rewarding and subversive treat." -Publishers Weekly

"Shaking loose new possibilities for how we might reshape the present precisely by unsettling something seemingly so settled as the past." -Music & Literature

"Daring." -The Financial Times

"A daring, playful story." -New Statesman

"A wonderful reading experience, filled with light, joy, discovery, friendship, and love." -The Massachusetts Review

"An unexpected ride that delivers on all accounts." -DIVA Magazine

"By disrupting pedagogical nationalist representations, Camara's story enables all those places in the margins to re-signify constructs of the Argentine people." -Wasafiri

Best books published in Latin America 2017. -New York Times (Espanol)

"A transformative adventure, wholly romantic and sublime, at times even supernatural in its message of discovery." -Books and Bao

"A thrilling book that has a little of everything that I look for in a novel." -SubText

"10 Best Translated Books 2019" -Books and Bao

Globetrotting: Your sneak preview of books in translation -New York Times

"It's moving and intelligent and funny and all of it is fun (so much fun)." -Mark Haber, Brazos Bookstore

"Best books dealing with feminism, sisterhood and queerness" -Pagina/12

"With a touch of whimsy, 'The Adventures of China Iron' rewrites a historical narrative and renders spaces inclusive." -Daily Star

"Best Books of 2017" -Los inRockuptibles

"20 Best Latin American books 2017" -El Pais

Praise for Gabriela Cabezon Camara

Silverio Canada Memorial Prize (Shortlist)

"Queer writing at its most exhilarating." -The Times Literary Supplement

"Camara's breakout tale is mind-blowingly good." -Publishers Weekly, starred review

"A revelation for contemporary literature."" -Andres Neuman , author of TRAVELLER OF THE CENTURY and TALKING TO OURSELVES

Globetrotting: Your sneak preview of books in translation -New York Times

"Camara has a powerful voice, one to be taken seriously." -Library Journal

"Cabezon Camara's exuberant range of styles truly shines." -Asymptote

"Book of the Year 2009." -Rolling Stone (Argentina)


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