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The Anthill  By  cover art

The Anthill

By: Julianne Pachico
Narrated by: Anthony Rey Perez
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Publisher's Summary

"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 20 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 "[B]lunt, fresh, and unsentimental" (The New York Times Book Review) and "[R]emarkably 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.

©2020 Julianne Pachico (P)2020 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"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)

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  • AJ
  • 12-24-20

Strange, weird trip

First, this novel is a commentary on what Columbia was and has become. Matty runs a sort of day-care community center for underprivileged children called The Anthill. Lina decides to drop her dissertation work to volunteer at The Anthill. She lived with Matty as a child, and doesn't really remember much about their childhood, but feels the need to look him up. as an aside, having completed a dissertation, I can sympathize with wanting to run away. Apparently, Lina plagiarized, so she needed to find something to do. Lina reminisces about growing up there, how Matty came to live with her family, etc. There are some supernatural aspects but they aren't explained or the focus of any storylines. They seem to be dropped in randomly. There also seems to be time jumps of 1000's of years. Whatever. It is well-written, but, for my taste, a little to abstract and unexplained. It isn't unusual for Lina to randomly throw up without explanation. I don't have a good sense of why Lina really went there, what she wants, and what her motives were with Matty. Nothing happens or gets resolved. As for narration, the reader puts on a terrible British accent. It is bad. Worse than Dick Van Dyke by far. Also, he has a Latin American Spanish accent for all the characters, and everything else is a bland American accent. It is a weird choice.