The Bitch


In the jungle, dreams and nightmares coexist

Colombia’s Pacific coast, where everyday life entails warding off the brutal forces of nature. In this constant struggle, nothing is taken for granted. Damaris lives with her fisherman husband in a shack on a bluff overlooking the sea. Childless and at that age “when women dry up,” as her uncle puts it, she is eager to adopt an orphaned puppy. But this act may bring more than just affection into her home. The Bitch is written in a prose as terse as the villagers, with storms―both meteorological and emotional―lurking around each corner. Beauty and dread live side by side in this poignant exploration of the many meanings of motherhood and love.

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Publication date

August 2020




Pilar Quintana

Pilar Quintana is a Colombian author. She debuted with Cosquillas en la lengua in 2003, and published Coleccionistas de polvos raros in 2007… Read more

Book Club Questions

  1. How long did it take you to become fully immersed in the story?
  2. Were you able to identify with Damaris?
  3. Did you ever move between feeling compassion for Damaris, and judging her? If so, did you have a final conclusion on this front, and what was it?
  4. Was the same true for Rogelio?
  5. Is the role of family in the village recognizable? If so, how, and if not, how does it differ from what you know?
  6. Do the relations of the villagers remind you of the way you relate with people in your neighborhood? If so, in which sense? If not, how do they differ?
  7. Which character in the book did you relate to the most/the least? Why?
  8. Does the novel have a specific message about the role of motherhood in a woman’s life? Did it bring you any new ideas about this?
  9. Would things have been very different if Damaris had had a child of her own?
  10. Whether you live in a city or not, does the relationship the villagers have with nature differ from yours? Did you have a hard time imagining the constant struggle with animals, the jungle, and the sea?
  11. Did you see the murder coming? Why? Were you horrified, or did you find the choice made sense somehow?
  12. What do you think of the ending? What do you imagine will happen next?
  13. To what extent is the dog’s behavior Damaris’s fault, or Rogelio’s for that matter? What could they have done differently?
  14. Do you have pets? If so, how do you think it changed the way you read this novel, if it changed it at all?
  15. After finishing the book, did you feel like reading more in the same style, or from the same author?


Praise for The Bitch

“The magic of this sparse novel is its ability to talk about many things, all of them important, while seemingly talking about something else entirely. What are those things? Violence, loneliness, resilience, cruelty. Quintana works wonders with her disillusioned, no-nonsense, powerful prose.”―JUAN GABRIEL VÁSQUEZ

The Bitch is a novel of true violence. Artist that she is, Pilar Quintana uncovers wounds we didn’t know we had, shows us their beauty, and then throws a handful of salt into them.” ―YURI HERRERA, author of Signs Preceding the End of the World

“Pilar Quintana weaves human nature and the chaos of the universe together with extraordinary mastery. This is a novel full of mysteries about unfulfilled desire, guilt, and the places where love still exists.” ―GABRIELA ALEMÁN, author of Poso Wells

“A raw yet beautiful story about maternity and the jungle” ―HAY FESTIVAL

“The world of The Bitch is heartbreakingly true, it’s there, closer than we think, and yet remains invisible.” ―El País

“Pilar Quintana has created a psychological tale that sweeps and drags us like the waves of the sea.” ―El Tiempo

“To narrate the baroque jungle and American sea with such sobriety is a great triumph.” ―Semana

The Bitch is far from simple in its brevity, communicating an inner universe that readers can easily identify with, by having experienced similar circumstances, reliving childhood, or relating to the portrayal of the landscape and those who inhabit it. This novel is a little gem that reminds me, in its intensity and fluidity, of The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway, or The Pearl by Steinbeck.” ―El Nuevo Día

“A profound and moving drama about life and destiny.” ―WMagazín

The Bitch is an effective, accurate novel, with an ending that is honest as it is painful.” ―MELBA ESCOBAR, author

“A tale narrated with skill and a steady hand.” ―El Espectador