Issue #23, 2004

Mexican Voices

This issue seeks to understand how nonfiction forms have evolved in regions outside of the United States–specifically, in Mexico. Guest editor Ilan Stavans, the Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College (Amherst, MA), worked with editor and founder Lee Gutkind to select the 11 original essays included in the issue–-7 of which have been translated into English from the original Spanish. "I’ve sought to represent the bifurcated Mexico I’ve become familiar with," he says. "I’ve chosen jazzy, itinerant, unconventional pieces representative of the centrifugal nature of the nation as a whole."

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. Each piece, as Stavans says, features "an eye that becomes an I"–-a unique, intensely personal view of Mexico from a writer’s perspective.

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 the 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 with a restless curiosity for the past, 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–in The Woman Who Loved Water. 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.

This issue is out of print.

Table of Contents

FROM THE EDITOR: Mexican Voices: Crónica de Crónicas Lee Gutkind ... read more
Unofficial Mexico Ilan Stavans
Group Photo: 100 Million Mexicans Juan Villoro
Hector and the Beauty Queens Sam Quinones
Vigil in Tehuantepec Alberto Ruy Sanchez
Liberace's Sink Rigoberto Gonzalez
About the Egg Hugo Hiriart
The Woman Who Loved Water Kathleen Alcala
Of Sea Turtles: A Cautionary Tale Homero Aridjis
The Essential Francisco Sosa, or, Picadou's Mexico City C.M. Mayo
Sienna Revisited Sergio Pitol
Hotel de México Susan Briante
On Becoming a Book at 40 Ilan Stavans
Attention Please, This Island Earth Diane Ackerman
COVER TO COVER: Reviews of New Books


Diane Ackerman

Diane Ackerman is the author of 20 works of poetry and nonfiction, including, most recently, "An Alchemy of Mind" and "Origami Bridges:... read more

Kathleen Alcala

Kathleen Alcala is the award-winning author of a short-story collection, Mrs. Vargas and the Dead Naturalist, and three novels set in 19th-... read more

Homero Aridjis

Homero Aridjis is the author of Eyes to See Otherwise, a bilingual anthology of his poetry, and the prize-winning novel 1492: The Life and... read more

Susan Briante

Susan Briante is a poet and essayist who lives in Austin, Texas. read more

Rigoberto Gonzalez

Rigoberto Gonzalez has published three books: So Often the Pitcher Goes to Water Until It Breaks, a selection of the National Poetry Series... read more

Hugo Hiriart

Hugo Hiriart was born in Mexico. He is the author of five novels, among them Galaor (1972) and La Destruccion de todas las coas [The... read more

C.M. Mayo

C.M. Mayo divides her time between Mexico City and Washington, D.C. Her books include Las Nuevas Finanzas en Mexico, Las Finanzas Populares... read more

Sergio Pitol

Sergio Pitol is the author of El tanido de una flauta [A Flute's Jingle] (1972), Nocturno en Bujara (1981), Juegos florales (1982), El... read more

Sam Quinones

Sam Quinones is a journalist and author of two books of narrative nonfiction about Mexico and Mexican immigration. He is at work on his... read more

Alberto Ruy Sanchez

Alberto Ruy Sanchez is the author of Los nombres del air (1987), translated into English in 1992 as Mogador, as well as Los jardines... read more

Ilan Stavans

Ilan Stavans is the Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College. His books include The Hispanic... read more

Juan Villoro

Juan Villoro was born in Mexico in 1956. He is the recipient of the Premio Xavier Villaurrutia for his volume of stories, La casa pierde [... read more