Books that will Take you to Mexico This Year
It was 1988, I was 7 years old, and I became the owner of my first novel. My brother bought me The Never-ending Story, a fantasy novel by Michael Ende. The story is about Bastian Balthazar Bux, a boy who realized he was giving life to the story. His mission was to help Atreyu, save the enchanted world of Fantastica, and give the Empress a new name. The book is about imagination and the importance of believing. As a kid, this was probably one of the most amazing gifts anyone could give to me; it started my curiosity for exploring and learning about stories.
There are few ways to be able to really experience a culture maybe by traveling, or tasting their food; how about interacting with locals? I always thought there was a way to have a better insight, and in the process, fall in love with a culture. That experience is through their writers.
Books are granted tickets that allow us to visit other worlds, to get an idea of what is to feel, sense, dream and even sometimes become the protagonist of a story. I love books, not any books, but the ones that most of the time offer the freedom to feel vulnerable and cry, laugh, be scared, or even fall in love - all on the comfort of my couch.
Throughout the years, many other books and stories came along, but the ones that are close to my heart and that make me feel nostalgic about home are the ones from my favorite Mexican writers. They offer a very unique and personal insight of Mexico through their stories. These are a few book recommendations to get you started on your own international book collection.
Pedro Paramo -Juan Rulfo
This is one of most important Hispanic literary masterpieces - the story of Juan Preciado who embarks on an adventure to find his father, Pedro Paramo, and ends up in Comala, an empty, mysterious, and dark small town in Mexico, only to find out that his father is dead, that most people share his last name and even many of them are his brothers. This is a fantastic novel about mystery and fantasy which will allow you to discover a magic territory with different realities.
Aura -Carlos Fuentes
A novel of gothic inspiration tells the story of Felipe Montero, a young historian who is hired by Doña Cosuelo, widow of Llorente General, who is hired to write her husband's memoirs. Felipe must live in the house where Dona Consuelo lives that is kept in the dark so she can avoid remembering her husband. This is where Felipe meets Aura, niece of Dona Consuelo, and the story gets way too complicated after that.
Como agua para Chocolate -Laura Esquivel
This is a love story that narrates the life of a girl called Tita who was not allowed to live her own love story due a family tradition: the youngest of the girls will remain single and will stay with her mother to take care of her until the day she dies. She grew up in the kitchen, which was the only place she felt safe, learning how to cook and developing a power over the food she prepared. The kitchen was where she was able to transmit joy, sorrow, love and even grief through her dishes.
Laberinto de la Soledad -Octavio Paz
This book describes that solitude is responsible for a Mexican’s perspective on death, celebrations and identity. The author assures that because Mexicans have inherited two different cultures, which are the Spanish and the Indigenous, they are forced somehow to deny one of them - which leads them to eventually get stuck in a world of solitude. Mexican identity is their reality.
The Quiche was a population that was settled in a territory around Guatemala, and they were part of the Mayan civilization. It is because of them that the Popol Vuh, a recompilation of sacred customs and beliefs, were able to be recovered, and later translated to Spanish. This is a compilation of different theories of how the world was created, how nature works, and the human race.
All of these books have translated editions available in most books stores or online bookstores. I am encouraging you to not be afraid of the title and to allow yourself to dive in and discover a totally new world or perspective you were not aware of - explore and let your curiosity guide you.