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Medellin, Columbia—a city of scars, torn apart by a turbulent past, patched back together by hardened survivors and well-meaning volunteers. Lina spent the first eight years of her life here, before tragedy struck and she was sent to school in England. Finding herself the perpetual outsider, she has returned to her homeland and one true friend, Matty, to see if she can figure out who she truly is. But Matty and Medellin have changed and the refuge she was looking for may actually need her help to survive. Lena soon learns her dark secret did not disappear during her absence and now demands to be heard. Julianne Pachico’s brilliant prose brings to life both the surreal visions and naked truths revealed in this haunting story of redemption. —Luisa— From Elaine and Luisa's Picks: Spring 2020
"Pachico's The Anthill is superb"--KELLY LINK
A wildly original blend of social horror and razor sharp satire, The Anthill is a searing exploration of privilege, racism, and redemption in the Instagram age.
In the end, it's much easier to not look at the screaming feeling. To not examine it. Better to just keep on rushing on...
Lina has come home to the country of her childhood. Sent away from Colombia to England after her mother's death twenty years before, she's searching for the one person who can tell her about their shared past. She's never forgotten Matty - her childhood friend and protector who now runs The Anthill, a day care refuge for the street kids of Medellín. Lina begins volunteering there, but her reunion with Matty is not what she hoped for. She no longer recognizes Medellin, now rebranded as a tourist destination, nor the person Matty has become: a guarded man uninterested in reliving the past she thought they both cherished.
As Lina begins to confront her memories and the country's traumatic history, strange happenings start taking place at The Anthill: something is violently scratching at the inside of the closet door, the kids are drawing unsettling pictures, and there are mysterious sightings of a small, dirty boy with pointy teeth. Is this a vision of the boy Lina once knew, or something more sinister? Did she bring these disturbances with her? And what will her search for atonement cost Matty?
A visceral, hallucinatory ride by an author who has been called "blunt, fresh, and unsentimental" (The New York Times Book Review) and "remarkably inventive" (The Atlantic), The Anthill is a ghost story unlike any other, a meditation on healing--for both a person and a country--in the wake of horror.
About the Author
JULIANNE PACHICO is the author of The Lucky Ones. She grew up in Cali, Colombia, and lived there until she was eighteen. She has a PhD in creative writing from the University of East Anglia in England, where she is now a lecturer. Her story "Honey Bunny" appeared in The New Yorker, and two of her stories have been anthologized in Best British Short Stories 2015. In 2015 she was long-listed for the Sunday Times EFT Short Story Award and in 2017 she was short-listed for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award.
"Unsentimental yet unfailingly tender, The Anthill confronts the question of what privileged survivors of conflict, personal or political, owe the more vulnerable if reconciliation, rather than simply burying the past and moving on, is to occur.”—SALON
“[A] stark look at a traumatized city and the way privilege corrupts.”—ELLE (Best Books of 2020 So Far)
“Absorbing . . . Vivid and at times surreal, this assured novel cements Pachico’s reputation as a gifted writer to watch.”—BOOKPAGE
“[A] pitch-perfect rendering of Medellín's many voices as they seek to reconcile their pasts with their futures. A jarring book that thrives on its many contradictions.”—KIRKUS REVIEW
"As in all good ghost stories—and Pachico’s The Anthill is superb—the haunting operates like a kind of blacklight, showing us how loss and trauma, invisible under ordinary circumstances, reverberate nevertheless through the life of an individual, a family, a country.”—KELLY LINK, author of GET IN TROUBLE
"The Anthill foxes the boundaries between the political and personal in startling and tender ways. It’s a novel that laughs through a mouthful of blood, which scares and touches, dazzles and compels. Julianne Pachico is a truly gifted and distinctive storyteller."—SHARLENE TEO, author of PONTI
“Julianne Pachico’s brilliant and scary new novel sneaks up on you. At once a powerfully imagined reckoning with national trauma and one young woman’s confrontation with considerable privilege and terrible loss, The Anthill is fiercely original. International in scope, profoundly human in its concerns, it feels like just the kind of novel we need in unsettling times.”—LAIRD HUNT, author of THE HOUSE IN THE DARK IN THE WOODS
"An expertly constructed literary Russian doll. Every layer of revelation deepens a kind of existential dread over the horror people are capable of and the intentional human blindness necessary to sustain it all. Pachico’s achievement is the way this intimately personal story expands into the universal and timeless to puncture first world pretense. A vibrantly intelligent work."—SERGIO DE LA PAVA, author of LOST EMPRESS
"The Anthill is a layered, riveting exploration of identity and history. I loved it. A deep and original ghost story, for sure."—LAURA VAN DEN BERG, author of THE THIRD HOTEL
"The Anthill is by turns profound and freewheeling, powerful and funny. Like a surreal, contorted game of hide and seek, with darkness at its centre, Julianne Pachico’s novel is seriously impressive."—CLAIRE ADAM, author of GOLDEN CHILD
"Written in prose that disrespects established boundaries to reveal a unique and courageous voice, Julianne Pachico’s The Anthill, is the story of two young people searching for identity and belonging. In doing so, and with the lightest of touches, Pachico lays bare the trauma of life in post-peace Columbia."—INGRID PERSAUD, author of LOVE AFTER LOVE