Issue 23 / 2004
Unique, intensely personal views of Mexico
This issue seeks to understand how nonfiction forms have evolved in Mexico. Guest editor Ilan Stavans, the Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College, worked with editor and founder Lee Gutkind to select the eleven original essays included in the issue—seven of which have been translated into English from the original Spanish. These essays offer the reader—through dramatic scenes, richly observed characters and lively, philosophical meditations—more than just an understanding of the literary traditions of Mexico.
Alberto Ruy Sánchez, editor of Artes de México, explores some haunting and beautiful Mexican traditions in “Vigil in Tehuantepec.” Hugo Hiriart, celebrated playwright and novelist, offers a hilarious philosophical meditation on the huevo in “About the Egg.” Juan Villoro, whom Stavans calls the most promising contemporary cronista, unpacks national identity—or lack thereof—in his “Group Photo: 100 Million Mexicans.”
Stavans and Gutkind also sought essays by authors who, as U.S. residents, offered an outsider’s perspective on Mexico. Kathleen Alcalá, a Latina novelist, writes about the impact of myth and folktale through the lens of the sensational Andrea Yates murder trial and the Mexican legend of La Llorona. Sam Quinones, who explored the Mexican underworld in his book True Tales from Mexico: The Lynch Mob, the Popsicle Kings, Chalino and the Bronx, offers a delightful crónica of the beauty pageants in Mazatlan. C. M. Mayo, a Flannery O’Connor Award-winning author who has lived in Mexico City since 1986, offers an insightful picture of the Mexican Capital from the viewpoint of her black pug, Picadou.
Alberto Ruy Sanchez
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