Selected as a 2017 Best Translated Book Award Finalist!
A Caribbean zombie, smart, gentlemanly, financially independent and a top executive in an important pharmaceutical company, becomes obsessed with finding the formula that would reverse his condition and allow him to become “a real person.” In the process, three of his closest collaborators (cerebral and calculating Isadore, wide-eyed and sentimental Mathilde, and rambunctious Patricia), guide the reluctant and baffled scientist through the unpredictable intersections of love, passion, empathy, and humanity. But the playful maze of jealousy and amorous intrigue that a living being would find easy and fun to negotiate, represents an insurmountable tangle of obscure intentions and dangerous ambiguities for our "undead" protagonist.
Wicked Weeds is put together from Isadore’s “scrapbook,” where she has collected her boss’s scientific goals and existential agony; her own reflections about growing up a Haitian descendant in the Dominican Republic and what it really means to be human; police reports; field journal entries; her great-aunt Sandrine’s heart-rending journey from rural Haiti to urban Dominican Republic as a restavek; and a wealth of oral lore. The end result is a genre unique in its class: a precise combination of Caribbean noir and science-fiction … that is, a work of speculative fiction full of humor, sociological pursuits, and in-depth explorations into religious syncretism and its survival in the modern world. A must read from one the most respected and prolific writers living in the Caribbean today, this English translation, skillfully rendered by Jessica Powell, offers a new audience initial access to a compelling body of work that has already reached cult status in its native Spanish.
Pedro Cabiya is a poet, screenwriter and award-winning author of the bestselling novels Trance and The Head, as well as the seminal short-story collections Historias tremendas (Pen Club Book of the Year) and Historias atroces. His work has been featured in numerous international anthologies, and his open letters, opinion pieces and essays on politics, religion, human rights, art and science regularly become viral phenomena. He has lived in Spain, the United States, Haiti and Puerto Rico. He currently resides in the Dominican Republic, where he is Dean of Academic Affairs at the American School of Santo Domingo and Senior Producer at Heart of Gold Films. Follow him @PedroCabiya and www.pedrocabiya.com..
Jessica Powell, a translator, holds a PhD in Hispanic Languages and Literatures from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She has published numerous translations of Latin American authors, including Antonio Benítez-Rojo, Jorge Luis Borges, César Vallejo, Adolfo Bioy Casares, Silvina Ocampo, Edgardo Rivera Martínez, María Moreno, Edmundo Paz-Soldán, Liliana Heer, Alan Pauls, and Anna Lidia Vega Serova.
Praise for Wicked Weeds: A Zombie Novel
“There's a lot to like about zombie plots: the squirm-worthy depictions of rotting flesh and devoured brains, the escapism of a license to kill something almost human. In Wicked Weeds: A Zombie Novel (Mandel Vilar) Pedro Cabiya takes these elements and adds twists, blending an intriguing dose of science, Caribbean lore and a dose of humor. The novel tells the story of an unnamed, self-aware zombie who spends his time trying to cure himself while disguising his undead condition. Physically, it's simple. But the worst part about being a zombie is the loss of emotion and human connection, something the zombie is desperate to regain. To cure himself, the zombie sets out on an investigation of zombie pop culture and takes part in experiments in a laboratory he runs. Unfortunately, his lab partners are three volatile, sexy women. Cabiya hilariously documents the zombie's interactions with these women, whose behavior increasingly baffles him. Cabiya's treatment of his female characters is another source of discomfort and amusement. At first their sexuality seems to be a joke — they are little more than a sum of fleshy parts. But as the book progresses, their femininity seems to hold the key to the zombie's cure.” The Washington Post, Nov.2, 2016
“You know what’s been missing in your life? A work of Caribbean noir and science fiction! in Wicked Weeks, a smart and successful zombie desperately searches for the formula that would reverse his “zombie-hood” and turn him into a “real person.” Rachel Cordasco, Tor.com: 15 Works to Watch Out For in 2016
"[A] Caribbean zombie novel navigates the uncertain pathways of the human heart in this cerebral take on the undead. ...Isadore is one of three complicated women in our protagonist’s life, one of a triptych that includes the passionate and visceral Patricia Cáceres and the naïve and open-hearted Mathilde Álverez. If you asked for a Caribbean version of Shakespeare’s Weird Sisters, you’d get a portrait of these three characters… [A] culturally resonant tale of zombie woe" Kirkus Reviews
“Threats of a zombie apocalypse seem to be around every corner, but what’s rare is an intelligent, thoughtful, funny, sentimental, socially conscious, and, yes, gross at times zombie tale infused with Caribbean culture, piques, prejudices, and passions. Pedro Cabiya delivers all of this and more in Wicked Weeds, one gentleman zombie’s quest to recapture his lost qualia, that indefinable, internal, sensory perception of self….Whether you consider yourself a lover of zombie fantasies or not, devour Wicked Weeds for its unique perspective, cultural insights, and charged humor.” Foreword Reviews
“Subtitled “A Zombie Novel,” Wicked Weeds is so much more than that. Yes, it is a book whose main character is a self-professed “zombie,” but it is also a work of simultaneously free-wheeling complexity and carefully-plotted exploration of the intersection of the human mind, body, and soul… Cabiya makes us think beyond the physicality of reviving a corpse and asks us to think of zombification in multiple dimensions: what does it feel like to try to pass as someone you’re not? What is that specific spark (for lack of a better word) that turns “animated” into “alive”? How is a zombie different from an AI or a wooden doll and why are these differences important?....I haven’t even scratched the surface here in expressing the depth, humor, and brilliance of this book. Do yourself a favor and read it.” Rachel Cordasco, Speculative Fiction in Translation, September 8, 2016
"Pedro Cabiya is one of the most promising writers of the new Puerto Rican narrative."
-- Julio Ortega
"Pedro Cabiya uses the naive tone of of known genres - fairy tale, dialogue, realistic pictures - to project a subtext that refers both to literature and the contemporary world"
-- Carmen Dolores Hernandez
“One of the most original and capable storytellers in the Caribbean.”
-- Rubén Ríos Ávila
“To read Cabiya…is to understand the tragedy of man... and that is always heart-rending.”
-- Mónica Volonteri
“Pedro Cabiya is an incredible intellectual and literary force in Caribbean letters.”
-- Mayra Santos Febres
“Cabiya is pure genius… funny, provocative, unsettling, all at once.”
-- Rita Indiana Hernández
October 2016 | 220 pp.
978-1-942134-11-4 | Paperback | $16.95
978-1-942134-12-1 | Kindle | $10.49