Milena, or the most beautiful femur in the world by Jorge Zepeda Patterson (a thriller for Spanish Lit Month)

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Milena isn’t Russian, as supposed, and she didn’t come to Mexico of her own free will. She was captured as a teen in Croatia by a human-trafficking ring and forced into prostitution.

When the novel opens, her benefactor has just died in her arms. He is the owner of El Mundo, and has prepared for such an event by writing a letter which instructs his daughter to protect his love, Milena, and to take the black book away from her because it could ruin the family.

What black book? How could it destroy the family? The secrets are many and multi-layered in this Spanish thriller which won the  Premio Planeta. (A literary prize of $800,000.)

Milena, or the most beautiful femur in the world was sent to me by Restless Books. I read it for Spanish Lit Month with an ache in my heart for the women who suffer in this trade, and the men who are oblivious to their suffering.

The next day, each of them (the men who came to the prostitutes) went on with his normal life, beyond the boundary of that hell they financed, thinking they had integrity and that paying a stack of euros got them off the hook for any wrongdoing.

Jorge Zepeda Patterson does a brilliant job of portraying the darkest aspects of prostitution and its inherent evil; of men taking advantage of anyone they can to gain power. He shows us the inner workings of the mafias engaged in human-trafficking and the groups laundering money for organized crime.

A far cry from Javier Marias’ gentle, even enigmatic prose, reading this novel is like watching a film. One that carries scenes all the more horrifying because they can be found in real life. It is a shocking book, and violent, incredibly fast paced and an exceptional thriller for those who enjoy this genre.

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10 thoughts on “Milena, or the most beautiful femur in the world by Jorge Zepeda Patterson (a thriller for Spanish Lit Month)”

  1. I have been meaning to read more translated works and I have a morbid fascination with all things crime so I can’t wait til I can get a copy.

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    1. Interestingly enough, I have a fascination with crime, too. It doesn’t go with my Christian faith very well, but neither does Atlas Shrugged, a book I adore. Perhaps we can separate some of the books we read from what we believe. At any rate, if you can find this (our crummy library even has a copy!) be prepared for an intense ride. It didn’t win the Planeta Prize for nothing, and after I read my review I realized how much I left out. But of course that is for the reader to discover, not the reviewer to reveal.

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  2. Bellezza, I would read this in a similar way: with an ache in my heart for the women who suffer in this trade. You expressed your thoughts well.

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  3. What a fascinating, succinct, and well-done review. I don’t know that I will have time to read the book, but your one comment intrigues me:
    “the darkest aspects of prostitution and its inherent evil”
    I agree that human trafficking and force prostitution are terrible, dark evils. However, I wonder about the issues when a person chooses that “profession.” We might find it deplorable because of our own moral compasses, but the issue does open up questions about freedom, responsibility, and social conformity. Don’t get me wrong. I’m no fan of prostitution. But your comment intrigues me. So does your review. Well done.

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    1. I agree with the point you seem to make about a person’s choice. In this particular instance, Milena was told she was going to an interview in Berlin for a waitressing job, hoping to escape the deplorable conditions of her small town in Croatia, but she ended up being kidnapped and terrorized into submission.

      However, in other instances, I absolutely believe people have a choice. One of my colleagues once said to her children, “Your life is a direct result of the choices you made.” I think we are must empower ourselves and make the right decisions. Unhealthy, unwise, “easy” decisions are all to easy to fall into, and how does one escape? I don’t like the blame I see some people lay on others, when their circumstances are their own fault.

      My goodness I sound judgmental, because on the other hand, out of my blessings I want to share with others when I can.

      As so often happens when blogging, what a shame we can’t sit around a table and discuss this better.

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  4. Great review. I heard about this one through a newsletter and thought it sounded very different from my usual reads. Will definitely be adding this to my list!

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    1. I think this is the only book I can remember reading about human-trafficking; normally, it’s not a subject I would choose to read about. But surely it is a timely subject, with what I’ve been reading in the news; a hot button now, with the immigration laws being reconsidered as to who can come into the country. And whom will they bring with them.

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