Best of Contemporary Mexican Fiction, the new anthology edited By Alvaro Uribe and Olivia Sears--- (which includes my translation of a short story by Alvaro Enrique, "On the Death of the Author")--- is gathering a slew of great reviews. A new batch:
"Short-story fans hungry for something that doesn't taste like it was cooked up in an MFA program workshop should take note of this anthology of contemporary Mexican writers. There's great variety here, but what all 16 stories have in common are distinctive voices. For the most part eschewing realism, these stories are exuberant, playful, informal, and experimental, and may make some readers nostalgic for the years before U.S. fiction got so institutionalized. Standouts include Álvaro Enrigue's "On the Death of the Author," a metafictional account of the author's attempts to tell the story of Ishi, the last Yahi Indian; Jorge F. Hernández's "True Friendship," about a man's perfect but probably fictional best friend; and Juan Villoro's hilarious "Mariachi," the tale of analysand El Gallito de Jojutla, "the only mariachi star who has never sat on a horse." Stories are printed in both Spanish and English on facing pages; bilingual readers will be able to judge the translations for themselves, and readers who only know English will at least be able to see the shape of the originals."
Omnivoracious on amazon.com
"Even as Mexican culture has become more a part of our everyday lives here in the U.S., most of us probably have not read these influential editors, translators, columnists, and professors, even though they are the most prominent and award-winning authors of the Mexican literary scene. Why? Because many of these writers, and most of these stories, have never appeared in English before."
"This extraordinary anthology of short stories, all written by Mexican authors born since 1945... represents an important cultural exchange, at least for U.S. readers. Even as Mexican culture has become more a part of our everyday lives here in the U.S., most of us probably have not read these influential editors, translators, columnists, and professors, even though they are the most prominent and award-winning authors of the Mexican literary scene. Why? Because many of these writers, and most of these stories, have never appeared in English before."
The Latin American Review of Books
"One unique aspect of this work is its transparency with regard to the translation. While many readers will opt to choose to experience the anthology either in Spanish or English, according to their own personal preferences or abilities, it is important to note that, in several cases the translations do not always run parallel to each other, a clear example that this should not necessarily be viewed as a pedagogical text that one uses to learn Spanish with the help of English (or vice-versa), but rather as a collection of narratives intended to offer “a glimpse of the rich tapestry of Mexican fiction” to an ample public. To this end, each story has its own well-established translator whose biographical details, like the original authors themselves, are also included at the end of this volume. This is a worthy recognition of the contribution they make in enabling this book to reach both the Spanish- and English-speaking world."
The Quarterly Conversation
"...Alvaro Enrigue...is such a talented writer that he manages to describe, from within his own story, exactly what makes his story superlative, and he pulls this off without making the inclusion seem the least bit strained:
There is a story, and a very good one at that, told by Bernardo Atxaga. He says that one day, as he walked through a town in his native Basque country, all of a sudden he came upon a man by a door with a hole in it. He chatted with the old man for a spell and then the man asked, Did he know why there was a hole in the door? Atxaga answered, It would be for the cat. No, said the man. They made it years ago, in order to feed a boy who, having been bitten by a dog, had turned into a dog.
The stories I like, the ones that make me wildly jealous and yearn to be able to write that well, have the bedazzling logic of that old Basque: they lack a piece, and this lack transforms them into a myth, appealing to the lowest common denominator that makes us all more or less equal.
'On the Death of the Author' lacks a piece; in fact, it lacks about four or five pieces, as there are four or five “mythical” sub-stories found within this work. Impressively, Enrigue manages to join these sub-stories together with thematic and particular links that make the entire piece come together as a deeply mysterious yet quite comprehensible whole."
OF Blog of the Fallen: "Short Fiction Sunday"
"an excellent, rich, diverse collection of stories that hopefully will inspire readers to dig deeper into Mexico's very rich literary tradition."