Call Me Magdalena


Call Me Magdalena

Alicia Steimberg
Translated by Andrea G. Labinger

Latin American Women Writers Series

137 pages


September 2001


$16.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Erotic entanglements, startling revelations, a furtive intruder, even a possible murder? Not at all what the students of Mind Control class envisioned when they gathered on a ranch outside Buenos Aires for a relaxing weekend. But here nothing is quite what it seems, least of all Magdalena herself, who while recounting the weekend's events, changes her name as often as she changes her mind.
Within the taut framework of a murder mystery, Alicia Steimberg weaves a tale far more concerned with who-is-it than with whodunit. In what is probably the celebrated author's most interesting and complex novel, Magdalena conducts us through her tortuous childhood as an Argentine Jew and through her doubts about morality and mortality, the existence of God, and the amorphous nature of identity. Animated by Steimberg's lively dialogue and wit, this eccentric tour of some of the more pressing questions about gender, identity, and existence itself is finally as intriguing and suspenseful as the mysteries large and small, otherworldly and mundane, that it invites us to contemplate.

Author Bio

Born in Buenos Aires in 1933, the descendant of Eastern European Jews, Alicia Steimberg is a well-known figure in the world of Argentine letters. She is the winner of many prestigious literary prizes, including the 1992 Planeta Prize for Call Me Magdalena. Andrea G. Labinger is a professor of Spanish and honors director at the University of La Verne in Claremont, California. She has translated many works, including Steimberg's Musicians and Watchmakers.


"Steimberg's simple and evocative prose distinguishes this 1992 Planeta Prize-winning novel about the quest of a young Argentine woman to understand her history and her heritage. The granddaughter of Russian Jews who emigrated to Argentina, and the daughter of parents indifferent to Judaism who embrace Argentine society, she is in a kind of cultural limbo, caught between one world she cannot forget and another she wants to embrace."—Publishers Weekly

"All sorts of genres are imperturbably parodied in this witty, prizewinning 1992 novel from the Argentinean author of Musicians and Watchmakers. . . . Intricate, sensuous, and frequently hilarious: very much like a really good Luis Buñuel film. Steimberg is one of Latin America's best writers."—Kirkus Reviews

"Labinger's thoughtful, fluid translation…makes available to an English-speaking audience the most important work within the Argentinian author's fictional oeuvre."—Shelley Godsland, Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

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