Monday, March 19, 2012

Mexico in stories (reading challenge #9)

The book journey now brought me to Middle and South America. My first entry point was a small, but thick collection of short stories. Again it's a book that waits since a while to be read. Only that this one, it probably will leave my bookshelf unread: it includes stories from 20 authors, but there is no female author included. None. What's also missing is a bio part, or at least a short note about which country each author is belonging to. Weird. Who creates such collections?

Mexican Lives
Frustrated, I put the collection away. By chance, another Mexican book popped up some days later, through the reading list of a friend in Goodreads: "Mexican Lives". . it’s a collection of different life stories from different corners of Mexican society - the main part of it consists of 15 life reports of Mexican men and women, from worker to street merchant to farmer to factory owner. It also includes chapters on the historical background, the political system, and the agricultural and rural development in Mexico. Looking at the reading list, the book "Mexican Lives" is a bit like the "Paris Was Ours" book: every story adds to a larger, more complex picture. I just looked for a note on it, and arrived at a detailed review at Mexconnect: Mexican Lives by Judith Adler Hellman, here's the start:

"What a wonderful book this is for explaining some of the mysteries of Mexico. It’s not pretty stuff but one emerges with great admiration for the Mexican people and their ability to survive in a plainly rotten social and economic system. Ms. Hellman, who is a Professor of Political and Social Science at York University in Toronto, has done superb research. She writes here about fifteen Mexicans in all walks of life..."

Special Issue: The Mexican Drug War
When I had reached the last chapter of Mexican Lives last week, the new issue of Words Without Borders went live: "The Mexican Drug War". It features 11 pieces of fiction, poetry, and literary nonfiction exploring the world of a modern-day Mexico held hostage by drug lords.

Guest edited by author Carmen Boullosa, the issue delves into the personal and the global repercussions of a conflict that has killed more than 60,000 people, it's online here: The Mexican Drug War. For most articles, there also is a Spanish version online. A good entry point is the article "A Report from Hell" by the editor Carmen Boullosa:

"I never dreamed that Mexico would be like this when I entered my sixties. My generation was raised on stories of the Mexican Revolution and the Cristero War. Around dinner tables our grandparents—eyewitnesses—had talked of the cost of those eruptions, when the “bola”—the people—had risen and violence had spread like a raging sea. But we believed such violence was a thing of the past."

More of Mexico
And while putting this note together, and wondering where to head to next, I realized that I should add this note, as it belongs to the reading challenge, too: the friend in Goodreads - that actually is Rose Hunter, a poet living in Mexico. I read her collection "A Foal Poem" last year - an inner and outer journey through Mexico: starting in Puerto Vallarta, it moves to Acapulco and San Miguel de Allende, Sayulita, and back to Puerto Vallarta.


Global + European Reading Challenge
this year, i am taking part in a global and in an european reading challenge. the idea: to read books from each continent of the world / several countries of europe. so far i've been to:
- detour: the world in 7 books
- book 8: Tagore (India/Asia)
- book 7: Zarzura (Egypt/Africa)
- book 6: Jericho (Israel/Middle East)
- book 5: Ledra Street (Cyprus/Europe)
- book 4: Disappearance. A Map (Alaska/America)
- book 3: Paris was Ours (France/Europe)
- book 2: Anar (Middle East)
- book 1: The Tigers's Wife (former Yugoslavia/Europe)
- more books: virtual bookshelf
- about: the Global Reading Challenge

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