authors > mexico
In his first novel, Las mutaciones, as well as in his non-fiction Comensal reflects on the impact of scientific developments on our lives. His next work, a collection of essays on the effect of reading on real and imagined voracious readers in history (Saint Augustin, Sigmund Freud, Dorian Gray, etc.), will be published in Spain by La huerta grande. Comensal is currently studying for a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Science at UNAM.
Ramon Martinez is a successful lawyer, a militant atheist and a conventional patriarch. A bad stroke of luck will deprive him of his tongue – and of his speech – and condemn him to live a silent tragicomedy. In this humourpos and unsettling novel, Jorge Comensal narrates the adventures of Ramón and his relatives: Carmela – the wife – who must accustom herself to daily arguments with her speech-deprived husband after many years of peace; Paulina and Mateo – the teenage children – who will have to get accustomed to everyday misery while dealing obesity and onanism; Elodia, the domestic servant, ready to give up avocado and chili in exchange for a miracle cure for her boss; and Benito, the blasphemous parrot who will become the confidant of Ramón. Cancer weaves the threads of Las mutaciones, a story about superstition and greed, about medical consultations and unpayable debts, about scientific research and therapeutic marijuana cultivation, about an egomaniac oncologist moved by religious zealotry and Bach, a heterodox psychoanalyst exploring ways to reach quicker results for her patients and a young hypochondriac.
“The Mutations is a wonderful novel, as tragic as it is comic, as classical as it is contemporary, and above all impossible to forget. After reading it, you’ll wish that there were many more novels by Jorge Comensal ready for you to enjoy—but since this is his first, we’ll just have to wait patiently till his next brilliant book is done.” —Alejandro Zambra
“An implacable speculative exercise (like the disease itself) on the limits of compassion. An uncompromising inquiry that tries to answer a sinister, almost eschatological question: what to do before the news of an incurable disease?” – Juan Pablo Villalobos
208 pages – Original language: Spanish/Mexico (Ediciones Antílope, 2016). Rights Sold: World Spanish excluding Mexico (Seix Barral/Planeta, 2019); German (Rowolht, 2019); Italian (Bompiani, 2019); French (LES ESCALES, 2019); English/North America (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019); Simplified Chinese (Archipel Press, 2020); World Arabic (Takween Publishing, 2021); Hebrew (Modan/Keter, 2021).
collection El confeccionador de deseos (Ficticia, 2015) and the Premio Nacional de Cuento Joven COMALA 2016 with this collection. She was a FONCA/Young Creators Programme Fellow in the
short-story area. Aniela is working on a new collection of short stories on the theme of women that official history has forgotten, the B side of history.
El problema de los tres cuerpos
A powerful and playful narrative flair marks the nine stories in El problema de los tres cuerpos (winner of the Premio Nacional de Cuento Joven Comala 2016), where a fluid prose goes hand in hand with the roughness of the themes, the crudeness of the situations mixes with all pervasive irony.
With virtuosity in the use of varied narrative registers -particularly impressive considering the author young age- skilful handling of high and low language, these stories evoke an internal balance which at every moment is about to break. Hitmen and prostitutes, working class figures prostrated by disease and accidents, abandoned lovers who sink lower and lower are the characters that populate situations in which desolation and desperation are endemic.
However, there is no catastrophic sentiment to these scenarios: violence is not an external agent suddenly altering the course of the events, but forms an inevitable part of life to be looked upon with sense of (black) humour.
With an eye on the social phenomena of modern day Mexico -religiosity, narco-traffic, poor working conditions- and descriptions of Northern desertic landscapes, the author pays homage to literary tradition (Juan Rulfo) as well as winking to contemporary authors such as Julián Herbert and Yuri Herrera. Nonetheless Rodríguez’s great narrative agility and linguistic confidence are undoubtedly the mark of her own personal voice.
96 pages – Original language: Spanish (Tierra Adentro, México, 2016). Rights Sold: Italian (Gran Vía, 2017); World Spanish (Minúscula, 2019)
While it started in the middle of the 15th century, the witch hunt in Europe intensified between 1550 and 1650, decades after other important historical events (the Protestant Reformation, the Peasants’ Revolt) influenced its development. It is right in the middle of these one hundred years of infamy, that the story of Anna Thalberg takes place.
Anna is a woman of singular beauty who is accused of witchcraft and taken by force to Würzburg to be tried. Klaus, her husband, and Friedrich, the village priest, will also travel from Eisingen – the city where they are based – to Würzburg – where Anna has been incarcerated awaiting judgement. They will use all available resources, seeking to stop the blind beast of the Inquisition, which is inexorable in trying to drag the woman to the stake.
Witches, werewolves, family spirits and even a demon who theologizes come together in these pages, but their presence is insufficient to hide the true horror: the inhumanity of the institutions, their manipulations and manufacturing of fear, and the arbitrary evil that nests in the heart of the human being.
Word count: 15,800 – Original language: Spanish
Entre los rotos (Among the Broken)
A young woman finds her younger brother’s photo collection. She doesn’t understand why Julian decided to keep those images. They do not portray particularly joyful moments, on the contrary, almost all of them can be seen as the prelude to a domestic catastrophe. Thinking about it, that was her childhood in Veracruz: the anteroom and the aftermath of a continuing catastrophe, the meticulous construction of the ruins that are herself, her brother and her mother. Their father, an unpredictable and violent man, hurt them with the most arbitrary provocation. Julian always got the worst part, so that at some point he raised a wall of silence to protect himself. But silence has the ability to contaminate everything with its own form of violence.
This novel is the attempt to rebuild the puzzle or the photo album that is all memory. The older sister knows that she cannot tell a happy story from these images, can she tell at least one plausible story? And who is the greatest absent in this story, Julian or herself? Did she manage to escape the wreck in time?
With impeccable prose, as emotional as it is precise, Among the Broken reminds us that we are our memory: a kaleidoscope much more broken than colourful.
WINNER of the MAURICIO ACHAR Award:
“…for being an impeccable narrative construction, an agile and precise story about a family broken by violence and silence. An intimate archaeology based on various resources of memory such as photographs, lists and personal definitions. In addition, Among the Broken is an intelligent and emotional novel that reflects on the way emotions have been transformed at the beginning of the 21st century.” – The Jury: Cristina Rivera Garza, Fernanda Melchor, Julián Herbert, Andrés Ramírez.
“…a female voice talking about issues that women have begun to talk about little by little: violence within the family, not only physical but also psychological, and the way in which these patterns of violence develop with parents, siblings. A very emotional and very well achieved novel.” – Fernanda Melchor
170 pages – Original language: Spanish (Penguin Random House, 2019)