Mexico Life
recommended books Two of the 10 recommended books.

Mexican literature is often an after-thought

In response, the Scottish Book Trust recommends 10 books by Mexican authors

Mexico News Daily is just one option for Spanish-challenged expatriates and others with an interest in reading about Mexico: the Scottish Book Trust has come up with 10 others.

The 10 options offer readers the opportunity to take a tour through Mexico with some “fantastic works,” says the Trust: all are novels written by Mexican writers and translated into English.

This country has been producing some very good work, it says, but is often seen as an after-thought in Latin American literature. Colombia has Gabriel García Marquez and Brazil boasts Paulo Coehlo, for example. Literature by Mexican writers, on the other hand, instead of hitting the Engish-speaking world with a huge splash, produces just a quiet ripple.

The 10 recommended books are described as “wonderful novels that you should get to know.”

Here, then, to help make a bit of a splash, are the books in question, along with some descriptions from the Trust and others.

Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo. Described by Publisher’s Weekly as a surrealist novel that portrays a man’s quest for his Mexican heritage. Rulfo’s extraordinary mix of sensory images, violent passions and unfathomable mysteries has been a profound influence on a whole generation of Latin American writers, including Carlos Fuentes, Mario Vargas Llosa and Gabriel García Marquez. — Scottish Book Trust

Down the Rabbit Hole by Juan Pablo Villalobos. A dark comedy about Tochtli, son of a drug baron on the verge of taking over a powerful cartel. Tochtli is growing up in a luxury hideout that he shares with hit men, prostitutes, dealers, servants and the odd corrupt politician or two. — Scottish Book Trust

The Death of Artemio Cruz by Carlos Fuentes. Hailed as a masterpiece since its publication in 1962, The Death of Artemio Cruz is Carlos Fuentes’s haunting voyage into the soul of modern Mexico. As in all his fiction, but perhaps most powerfully in this book, Fuentes is a passionate guide to the ironies of Mexican history, the burden of its past, and the anguish of its present. — Scottish Book Trust

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. A sumptuous feast of a novel, it relates the bizarre history of the all-female de la Garza family. Tita, the youngest daughter of the house, has been forbidden to marry, condemned by Mexican tradition to look after her mother until she dies. But Tita falls in love with Pedro, and he is seduced by the magical food she cooks. In desperation, Pedro marries her sister Rosaura so that he can stay close to her. For the next 22 years, Tita and Pedro are forced to circle each other in unconsummated passion. — Scottish Book Trust

The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli. One of the most unforgettable images in any book this year is that of Gustavo “Highway” Sánchez Sánchez, the protagonist of Luiselli’s delightfully unclassifiable novel, walking around the streets of Mexico City, smiling at people with the teeth of Marilyn Monroe installed in his mouth . . . surprising and charming . . . It’s difficult not to follow wherever it takes you. —Publisher’s Weekly

Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera. Makina knows how to survive in a macho world. Leaving her native Mexico in search of her brother, she’s smuggled into the U.S. bearing two secret messages — one from her mother and one from the Mexican underworld. In this grippingly original novel Herrera explores the actual and psychological crossings and translations people make. — Scottish Book Trust

The Book of Clouds by Chloe Aridjis. Tatiana, a young Mexican woman, is adrift in Berlin. Choosing a life of solitude, she takes a job transcribing notes for the reclusive Doktor Weiss. Through him she meets “an illustrator turned meteorologist” Jonas, a Berliner who has used clouds and the sky’s constant shape-shifting as his escape from reality. As their three paths intersect and merge, the contours of all their worlds begins to change . . . . — Scottish Book Trust

Silver Bullets by Elmer Mendoza. Tormented by past heartbreak and contemporary politics, for Edgar “Lefty” Mendieta the news of the murder of lawyer Bruno Canizales represents just another day at the office in the drug-ridden city of Culiacán. It soon becomes clear that there is no shortage of suspects in a city where it’s hard to tell the gangsters from the politicians. — Scottish Book Trust

Leonora: A Novel by Elena Poniatowska. Born in Lancashire as the wealthy heiress to her British father’s textiles empire, Leonora Carrington was destined to live the kind of life only known by the moneyed classes. But even from a young age she rebelled against the strict rules of her social class, against her parents and against the hegemony of religion and conservative thought, and broke free to artistic and personal freedom. Today Carrington is recognized as the key female surrealist painter, and Poniatowska’s fiction charms this exceptional character back to life more truthfully than any biography could. — Scottish Book Trust

Texas: The Great Theft by Carmen Boullosa. An imaginative writer in the tradition of Juan Rulfo, Jorge Luis Borges and Cesar Aira, Carmen Boullosa shows herself to be at the height of her powers with her latest novel. Loosely based on the little-known 1859 Mexican invasion of the U.S., Texas is a richly imagined evocation of the volatile Tex-Mex borderland. Boullosa views border history through distinctly Mexican eyes, and her sympathetic portrayal of each of her wildly diverse characters makes her storytelling tremendously powerful and absorbing. —Amazon

Source: Scottish Book Trust (en)

Editor’s note: Most of these books are available for purchase through MND Marketplace.

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