A transporting and brilliant comic novel narrated by an unforgettable woman: Karen Nieto, an autistic savant whose idiosyncrasies prove her greatest gifts
As intimate as it is profound, and as clear-eyed as it is warmhearted, Me, Who Dove into the Heart of the World marks an extraordinary debut by the award-winning Mexican playwright, journalist, and poet Sabina Berman.
Karen Nieto passed her earliest years as a feral child, left alone to wander the vast beach property near her family's failing tuna cannery. But when her aunt Isabelle comes to Mexico to take over the family business, she discovers a real girl amidst the squalor. So begins a miraculous journey for autistic savant Karen, who finds freedom not only in the love and patient instruction of her aunt but eventually at the bottom of the ocean swimming among the creatures of the sea. Despite how far she's come, Karen remains defined by the things she can't do—until her gifts with animals are finally put to good use at the family's fishery. Her plan is brilliant: Consolation Tuna will be the first humane tuna fishery on the planet. Greenpeace approves, fame and fortune follow, and Karen is swept on a global journey that explores how we live, what we eat, and how our lives can defy even our own wildest expectations.
Classified as a "highly functioning autistic" but known to herself simply as "Me," the remarkable narrator of Mexican poet and playwright Berman's entrancing debut is happiest at the bottom of the sea, among her beloved tuna. Karen Nieto was found as a child living in squalor and taught to speak by her caring Aunt Isabelle, who returns to Mazatl n to resuscitate the family cannery business. Though it becomes clear that Karen's IQ lies, as Isabelle bluntly put it, "between imbecile and idiot," Karen also has vision, specifically to bring humane fishing practices to the cannery, Consolation Tuna Ltd., where she loves watching the fish, or, when that isn't possible, walking around in a wetsuit and diving mask. In college in scenes that bring to mind Temple Grandin's early struggles to be recognized in her field Karen butts heads with a professor renowned for his development of humane slaughter techniques. Though higher education isn't for her, the professor's ideas fuel her transformation of Consolation Tuna into the world's first humane tuna fishery, despite protests from radical animal rights groups. The unique voice lyrical and questioning, is powerful enough to carry the story, but the conservation plot line adds an extra boost.