In nineteenth-century Argentina, Ema, a delicate woman of indeterminate origins, is captured by soldiers and taken to live as a concubine in a crude fort on the very edges of civilization. The trip is appalling (deprivations and rapes prevail along the way), yet the real story commences once Ema arrives at the fort. There she takes on a succession of lovers among the soldiers and Indians, before launching a grand and brave business— an enterprise never before conceived—there in the wilds. As is usual with Aira’s work, the wonder if Ema, The Captive emanates from the wonderful details of customs, beauty, and language, and the curious, perplexing reality of human nature.
In typically unpredictable Aira fashion, Ema emerges triumphant.