Books from and set in Mexico
November 15, 2019 10:11 PM   Subscribe

Please hit me with your Mexican literature (in English translation) suggestions. Any genre, time period, etc. Just looking for good readin'

Going to Mexico in February. I'd like to binge on books by Mexican authors first. I'm wide open to whatever you define as good writing.
posted by latkes to Media & Arts (20 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Yuri Herrera's Eight Signs Preceding the End of the World is an intense but short read.
posted by praemunire at 10:36 PM on November 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

The Underdogs (Los de Abajo) by Mariano Azuela
posted by gemutlichkeit at 10:41 PM on November 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

The Savage Detectives, by Roberto Bolano. Technically a Chilean author, one who spent his formative years in Mexico.
posted by Pantalaimon at 11:01 PM on November 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

Not for everyone but I'll add Cristina Rivera Garza's utterly unreal The Taiga Syndrome
posted by vacapinta at 11:47 PM on November 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli.
posted by turkeyphant at 11:54 PM on November 15, 2019 [3 favorites]

The Body Where I Was Born, by Guadelupe Nettel. I really liked it. She also has some short stories available in translation, which I have not read but am going to now that I know.

The Ragdoll Plagues is a very odd novella which draws on certain cyberpunk tropes but is not a science fiction novel. (There was a post-NAFTA boom in cyberpunk and cyberpunk inflected stuff in Mexico with a labor/transnational angle, but there isn't a lot in translation as far as I can tell.)
posted by Frowner at 11:57 PM on November 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

For a great, entertaining, Gaiman-esque read let me recommend Silvia Moreno Garcia's Gods of Jade and Shadow about Mexican gods walking the earth.
posted by vacapinta at 11:58 PM on November 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

I loved the wild cyberpunk comedy-drama of High Aztech by Ernest Hogan, set in Mexico City by an Angeleno Chicano author. I saw a review that described him as "gonzo" and yeah, that's the mood.

Seconding also The Story of My Teeth, which is strange and adventurous but much more literary. If you like that you might like Carmen Boullosa's Before.
posted by peppercorn at 12:10 AM on November 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

Oh, sorry, I read that title as an inclusive "and" but of course it is meant to be "both from and set" in Mexico. Just Boullosa and Luiselli then.
posted by peppercorn at 12:16 AM on November 16, 2019

More suggestions
posted by TheRaven at 2:28 AM on November 16, 2019

I liked Empty Set by Verónica Gerber Bicecci, although it’s a bit unusual!
posted by somedaycatlady at 9:22 AM on November 16, 2019

Pedro Páramo, by Juan Rulfo (1955) is a classic and a great weird read. Ghosts, revenge, and the history of a town in Western Mexico. Gabriel García Márquez regularly cited it as a big influence on 100 Years of Solitude.
posted by miles per flower at 9:24 AM on November 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

They will dream in the garden by Gabriela Damián Miravete.
posted by azalea_chant at 2:50 PM on November 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions so far! To clarify I am looking for books by Mexican authors and also books that take place in Mexico but not so much like, a person from the US goes on a visit to Mexico type books.
posted by latkes at 5:04 PM on November 16, 2019

There are English translations of the Popol Vuh, which is utterly fascinating. Give it a try!

(Not quiiiiiiite Mexican -- it's Guatemalan -- but we have so little from the precolonial peoples of these areas that I'll still recommend it.)
posted by humbug at 6:28 PM on November 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

If you like pulp/noir detective novels, I highly recommend The Mongolian Conspiracy by Rafael Bernal. The author was a Mexican diplomat and apparently sourced a lot of his material by drinking with hired guns in the jungles of southern Mexico.

NB: It’s written in the 1960s and has 1960s Mexican attitudes to things like race and gender.
posted by Concordia at 1:57 AM on November 17, 2019

Oh hey, also why not read something by Subcomandate Galeano/Subcomandante Marcos, the most individually high profile of the Zapatistas? The Zapatistas are actually pretty good - I feel like they've been forgotten a bit in the international left because they're mainly-Indigenous sorta-anarchists. He co-wrote a detective novel called The Uncomfortable Dead and he's written a lot of other stuff.

Another thought: where are you going in specific? It might be possible to find some interesting translated fiction specific to the locale(s) - like, if you were going to Oaxaca it would be good to read some specifically Oaxacan stuff. (But I've only read non-fiction about Oaxaca.)
posted by Frowner at 4:11 AM on November 17, 2019

Response by poster: These are great suggestions folks! I don't know our itinerary yet (have to decide this week!) but we'll definitely be spending about half the trip in Mexico City. I picked up a few of these suggestions at the library today, looking forward to reading.
posted by latkes at 6:38 PM on November 17, 2019

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