Set at the beginning of the twentieth century in the tropical northwestern Mexican state of Sinaloa, the stories collected in Underground River and Other Stories focus on female subjectivity. Arredondo’s adult male characters are often predators, depraved collectors of adolescent virgins, like the plantation owners in “The Nocturnal Butterflies” and “Shadows in the Shadows” and the dying uncle in “The Shunammite,” who is kept alive by incestuous lust. Since the young female protagonists rarely have fathers to protect them, the only thing standing between them and these lechers are older women. Perversely, these older women act as accomplices–along with the extended family and the Roman Catholic Church–in the sordid age-old traffic in women.
Underground River and Other Stories is the first appearance of Arredondo’s stories in English.