Two novels written by Mexican authors for readers with tough skin
If literature has the power to amplify our vision of the world, the prose of Mexicans Carmen Boullosa and Fernanda Melchor open castle-like doors in our quarantined minds.
Mexican playwright, poet and novelist, Carmen Boullosa has the curious virtue of taking over a character or a historical fact and reimagining it in a thousand and one possibilities. She did so in 2003 with Cleopatra Desmonta and also in 2013's Texas: The Great Theft.
But her new novel, published last March, is unusual for more than one reason. First, because it draws us into the universe of a fictional character, Anna Karenina and second, because it amplifies a detail of the Russian classic and triggers a book that mixes the manuscript Anna Karenina was writing in Tolstoy's work with the stories of her children and revolutionaries of St. Petersburg in 1905.
"Tolstoy had problems with women. He adored Anna Karenina, but she was a woman, and he had problems with them," explained Boullosa. "I wanted to restore her from her lost manuscript, so I decided that I would write the book."
Nominated for the prestigious Man Booker award on May 25, this novel catapulted Mexican Fernanda Melchor to stardom among the best Latin American authors under the age of 40.
Translated into more than 10 languages, Hurricane Season is set in a fictional town in the state of Veracruz, where Melchor is from, and begins when a group of children discover the body of a witch floating in a canal. All of this is interwoven with the stories of various inhabitants of the town who are related to the witch.
It's an obscure novel that confronts us with the reality of macho violence in Mexico and reliably reproduces the speech and lives of the people of the region.
"It's a novel that talks about a small town in Mexico and has a very strong local color," said the Veracruz native. "It's really hard. It's not for all the readers."