Heartland by Ana Simo

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Heartland is an imperfect, yet pleasing cocktail that goes down unexpectedly smooth; it is truly unlike any novel I can think of, or imagine.


In a word-drunk romp through an alternate, pre-apocalyptic United States, Ana Simo’s fiction debut, Heartland, is the uproarious story of a thwarted writer’s elaborate revenge on the woman who stole her lover, blending elements of telenovela, pulp noir, and dystopian satire.

There’s only one solution for a nasty case of writer’s block, and that’s murder. Specifically, that of one Mercy McCabe, a cunning SoHo art dealer who was once our Latina narrator’s rival for the scrumptious Bebe. When she discovers that McCabe has squandered Bebe’s affections after stealing her away, revenge is not enough: she must admit her guilt, sentence herself, and beg for her own execution, Soviet-style.

In the all-too-terrifyingly-familiar America of Heartland, the inconceivable has become ordinary: corruption and greed at the top have led to mass starvation in the heartland; hordes of refugees have escaped from resettlement camps and attack the cities; a puritanical Caliphate has toppled Constantinople, with America in its sights. Meanwhile, escaping her New York life in disguise, our heroine lures McCabe to her home turf: a hilltop house in the Great Plains where her parents worked as domestic servants. Her nemesis, though, is slippery, and McCabe disappears, threatening to ruin a homicidal masterplan so detailed as to be akin to love.

Heartland is a hilarious, genre-defying debut that confronts taboos of race, assimilation, and sex through a high-voltage tale of love, language, and revenge.

Ana Simo is the author of a dozen plays, a short feature film, and countless articles. A New Yorker most of her life, she was born and raised in Cuba. Forced to leave the island during the political/homophobic witch-hunts of the late 1960s, she first immigrated to France, where she studied with Roland Barthes and participated in early women’s and gay/lesbian rights groups. In New York next, she co-founded Medusa’s Revenge theatre, the direct action group the Lesbian Avengers, the national cable program Dyke TV, and the groundbreaking The Gully online magazine, offering queer views on everything. Heartland is her first novel.

Eschewing labels and defying expectations, Simo slyly confronts race, sexuality, multigenerational duty, immigrant dislocation, and even dirty politics while spinning a bizarrely spectacular, outlandishly disorienting (not-)love-story of lost, searching souls.”

—Terry Hong, Booklist

“This novel is singularly difficult to classify. Is it lesbian noir? Slapstick dystopia? Midwestern gothic? To say that it’s all of the above is not to exhaust the list of genres Simo straddles and, maybe, invents.... What holds everything together is Simo’s inventive and unapologetically irreverent voice…. Original, profane, and discomfiting.”

—Kirkus Reviews

About Ana Simo

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Published January 16, 2018 by Restless Books. 226 pages
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Gay & Lesbian, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Heartland
All: 2 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 1


Below average
on Oct 31 2017

Authors are, of course, free to use whatever language they like, and Simo is under no obligation to craft a likable protagonist or a comfortable narrative. But it’s hard to imagine anything beyond a very narrow audience for this novel.

Read Full Review of Heartland | See more reviews from Kirkus


Above average
Reviewed by Juan Vidal on Jan 18 2018

Heartland is an imperfect, yet pleasing cocktail that goes down unexpectedly smooth; it is truly unlike any novel I can think of, or imagine.

Read Full Review of Heartland | See more reviews from NPR