I have now read twenty Mexican novels in a row. So what have I learned? Well, Mexican literature is as varied as any other well developed literature. I found post-modern novels, feminist novels, historical novels, psychological novels, love and romance and death and dying. However, a few things stand out, even if the twenty novels were fairly randomly selected.
1. Mexican women are not very impressed with Mexican men. They find them bullying, controlling and violent. No doubt women all over the world could say the same about their men, usually with considerable justification, but the Mexican women seem even more forthright than women writers of other nationalities.
2. The drug war and its associated violence is a key factor in Mexican life but perhaps not quite as much as I expected in these novels. Corrupt politicians seem to be more of an issue.
3. Post-modernism and feminism are both very much alive and well in the contemporary Mexican novel.
4. To my surprise, the issue of immigration, particularly illegal immigration, into the United States was barely mentioned nor was the issue of Mexico being used as a corridor to the United States for illegal immigrants from other parts of Latin America, with the one obvious exception of Yuri Herrera‘s Señales que precederán al fin del mundo (Signs Preceding the End of the World).
5. Equally lacking was the issue of Mexico’s relationship with the United States. When it appeared, it was virtually only in connection with US involvement in the Mexican Revolution some one hundred years ago, again with the exception of Señales que precederán al fin del mundo (Signs Preceding the End of the World).
While I enjoyed all the books – there were no bad ones – there was not a great book among them. The ones I preferred were the more post-modern ones such as Luis Jorge Boone‘s Las afueras [The Outskirts], Valeria Luiselli‘s La historia de mis dientes (The Story of My Teeth), Ignacio Padilla‘s Si volviesen sus majestades [If Their Majesties Were to Return], Yuri Herrera‘s Señales que precederán al fin del mundo (Signs Preceding the End of the World) and Juan Pablo Villalobos‘ Fiesta en la madriguera (Down the Rabbit Hole).
What I am looking forward to now is the Great Mexican Trump novel (and, doubtless, the Great US Trump novel). Here is a foretaste from Juan Pablo Villalobos, one of the writers I read and who does not shy away from contemporary political issues. More to come?