Empty Houses

Brenda Navarro


Precise, devastating, explosive: we love this Mexican debut


Daunt Books Publishing > Fiction > Fiction in translation

ISBN: 9781911547686

Published February 2021


Daniel disappeared three months, two days and eight hours after his birthday. He was three. He was my son.

Empty Houses unfolds in the aftermath of a child’s disappearance. His mother is distraught. As her life begins to unravel, she is haunted by his absence but also by her own ambivalence: did she even want him in the first place?

In a working-class neighbourhood on the other side of Mexico City another woman protects her stolen child. After longing desperately to be a mother, her life is violently altered by its reality. Alternating between these two contrasting voices, Empty Houses confronts the desires, regrets and social pressures of motherhood faced by both the mother who lost her child and the new one who risked everything to take him.

A literary sensation on its original publication, Empty Houses is a kaleidoscopic inquiry into contemporary Mexico and a provocative exploration of motherhood. It announces an intrepid and breathtaking new literary voice.

‘Gripping… A taut two-hander that examines motherhood through the prism of a child’s abduction.’ – Observer

‘Navarro’s descriptions of the toll of motherhood are strange, stark and original . . . a captivating debut from a writer to watch.’ – Irish Times

‘Tense, addictive, eye-opening.’ – i Paper

‘This powerful debut novel by Brenda Navarro is a reflection on parent, motivation, loss and desire.’ – Monocle 

‘A sharp social criticism of class and racial issues … Navarro is a brave new voice in Mexican literature.’ – Morning Star

‘A brilliant new voice, eviscerating and propulsive. Reading Empty Houses left me shattered and floored.’ – Miriam Toews, author of Women Talking

‘This powerful and strangely beautiful novel challenges and moves us with its unique and disquieting wisdom.’ – Alejandro Zambra, author of Multiple Choice

‘One of the best-kept secrets of Mexican literature.’ – Fernanda Melchor, author of International Booker-Prize shortlisted Hurricane Season

‘A devastating novel written with great intellectual lucidity, Empty Houses captures the tremendously complex range of emotions born from motherhood while subtly casting light on some of the tensions and traumas within Mexican society itself.’ –  Chloe Arijdis, author of  Sea Monsters

‘A meticulous study of pain written by an author who knows that behind all affection lies hidden danger.’ – Yuri Herrera, author of Signs Preceding the End of the World

‘In precise and devastating prose, Empty Houses confronts topics such as intimacy, domestic violence, social inequality, loneliness, guilt and love.’ – Elle (Spain)

‘An unforgettable novel: its pages contain some of the finest literature.’ – El País

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Additional information

Weight 0.45 kg
Dimensions 20 × 13 × 5 cm