Why you should care
When’s the last time you read Mexican?
Mexico’s literature is reaching out to the world. Departing from long-standing traditions like magical realism, it has embraced transnationalism. But this new practice does not solely belong to Mexico’s new generation. It is deeply embedded in the country’s literary canon, according to Mexican poet and novelist Carmen Boullosa, who spoke recently at the Bay Area Book Festival. In the works that follow, Mexico is not just a place but a way of considering the world, and observing how the world is reflected in your home country.
This anthology from authors under the age of 40, chosen by a panel of established Mexican writers, showcases the formal playfulness of the country’s new literary generation. As one judge, Cristina Rivera-Garza, explains in her introduction, the collection prizes “the strength and the strangeness of the texts themselves: the way in which they question our reading habits …” Probing what storytelling can be, Juan Pablo Anaya’s “Love Song for An Android,” integrates pop criticism into his fiction, Gerardo Arana’s “Meth Z” provides shard-like drafts of a story of the creation and destruction of a Western serial novel and Verónica Gerber Bicecci’s draws out the dynamics of a failed relationship in a series of sketches that are as much part of her tale as the text.
The Art of Flight & the Journey
by Sergio Pitol
These travelogues chronicle a life of dialogue with world letters, a literary transcontinental salon. The Journey, an account of Pitol’s days as a diplomat and flaneur in Prague and traveling around Georgia in the early ’90s, explores Czech and Georgian art and literature confronting an imposing Russian literary and political presence, while The Art of Flight moves from insights about the work of Pitol’s Mexican contemporaries to musings of a roving reader in Spain and Italy. Publisher Will Evans of Dallas-based Deep Vellum Press, chose to commission Pitol for translation after reading about his great influence on Mexican authors over the last 50 years. “The way that people write about him, I thought, I want to publish him.”
The Great Theft
by Carmen Boullosa
Boullosa reminds her readers of an inconvenient truth: Large parts of the United States were unlawfully seized from Mexico in the mid-19th century. But her humorous, well-textured novel is not overtly didactic. The panorama-like view of the confusion and violence in the Mexican-Texan fictional border towns of Bruneville and Matasánchez includes a large cast of characters who provide lively company. A “gringo” sheriff, the Mexican rancher — “cattle-thief”— don whose shootout with the sheriff launches the book, roving gangs of bandits, Comanche warriors, a Southern belle transplant: They are people whose stories you’ll want to get to know.
The Body Where I Was Born
by Guadalupe Nettel
The “where” of the novel’s title speaks to a fascination with shifting geographies — of the young body, the memorial landscapes of a childhood home that has undergone trauma, the home country versus the adopted country for an ex-pat. In the narrator’s account to her psychologist of her adolescence moving between various neighborhoods in Mexico City and a banlieue in Aix-en-Provence, France, the novel works in a straightforward way in its language and narration. Reading Nettel’s prose, you will understand why Granta featured her in its “Best Untranslated Writers” series in 2013.