Mexican Literature, Past and Present

Article by mark

Mexican writers, both alive and dead, have a way of honoring the past. In celebration of The Day of the Dead we bring you Day of the Read, highlighting two great Mexican writers of the past and two from the present who reflect a great tradition of storytelling.

Pedro Paramo (Letras Hispanicas #189) Cover Image
ISBN: 9788437604183
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Lectorum Publications - October 1st, 1989

Juan Rulfo
Considered by many to be the beginning of modern literature in Mexico, Juan Rulfo’s small body of work (a slim a novel, a slim story collection) are made all the more powerful by their sheer influence and originality. Writer’s as far-ranging as Cormac McCarthy and Yuri Herrera can be found in the style and settings of Rulfo’s writing. His single novel, PEDRO PARAMO, tells the story of a young man who travels to his recently deceased mother’s hometown to locate his father, only to find himself in a ghost town, literally; a city populated by specters from the past. Strange and surreal, and highly modern, this novel will have you reaching for his short story collection, THE PLAIN IN FLAMES, another masterpiece.

The Labyrinth of Solitude Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802150424
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - January 12th, 1994

Octavio Paz
If Mexico has a national poet it’s Octavio Paz, whose influence resonated throughout the 20th century. So influential, in fact, his work was translated by the likes of Samuel Beckett and Elizabeth Bishop. His poetry crossed many styles but much of it was considered surrealist. His book-length essay, THE LABYRINTH OF SOLITUDE, is a polyphonic work that speaks from the mouths of the Mexican people. Paz observes that solitude is responsible for the Mexican's perspective on death and identity.

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Faces in the Crowd Cover Image
ISBN: 9781566893541
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Coffee House Press - May 13th, 2014

Valeria Luiselli
As quirky and contemporary as she is innovative, Valeria Luiselli is also a Mexican author who examines the past. Her debut novel, FACES IN THE CROWD, is replete with dead Mexican poets and ghosts, while themes of identity and displacement drift throughout. Her most recent novel, THE STORY OF MY TEETH, not only takes place in Mexico City, but was an art project in collaboration with Jumex juice factory, whose employees would read chapters of the book as a group and make comments to send back to Luiselli. Her books are an astonishing look at what’s possible by looking both forward and back.

Signs Preceding the End of the World Cover Image
By Yuri Herrera, Lisa Dillman (Translator)
ISBN: 9781908276421
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: And Other Stories - March 10th, 2015

Yuri Herrera
Herrera’s novels take place on the border of Mexico and the United States, but far from realism, his novels are slim, artful and fantastic tales that carry a weight much heavier than their 100-page sizes suggest. SIGNS PRECEDING THE END OF THE WORLD and THE TRANSMIGRATION OF BODIES are both excellent examples of the possibility of merging highly contemporary issues (immigration, violence, drugs) with eternal themes of identity, family and what it means to be Mexican. His third book, in a disconnected trilogy, will be published next year.

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