by Claudia Morales
Winner of Mexico's National Rosario Castellanos Prize in 2015, No Habrá Retorno by Claudia Morales (Chiapas 1988) is an homage to those who have relocated in one way or another. In this deceptively slim novel, various experiences of displacement, movement, and memory are further complicated by the relationships we hold onto, for better or for worse. Composed of three interlocking narratives, No Way Back asks serious questions about our lasting impact on the world we inhabit while providing necessary depth to modern immigrant narratives. Morales' thoughtfully crafted characters are multi-faceted and imperfect, operating in a world imbued with equal parts brutality and tenderness:
An elderly translator struggles to unravel her memories of being a young, Jewish, lesbian and member of the Communist Party in New York who falls in love with her adoptive sister, Janet, how their lives intersected with that of the famed photographer, Marcey Jacobson, and their eventual relocation to Mexico during the height of McCarthyism. As this narrator explores her own beliefs about political dissidence, fascism, and love, she is haunted by her memories of Ota Benga, the Mbuti Pygmy man kidnapped from the Congo to be put on exhibit at the Bronx zoo.
Two present-day teenagers, Oliver from Honduras and El Gavilán from Guatemala, cross Mexico on foot and by train to reach the United States. Oliver is disturbed by his traveling companion's ruthlessness, and conflicts of personality stoke tensions between the two as they confront the few options that lay before them. Through a series of flashbacks, it is revealed that Oliver is gay and closeted.
A Mexican academic returns to her family's remote ranch after her professor's suicide abruptly ends their affair. While there, she is destined to encounter lingering ghosts of her family's complicated history, including the patriarchal abuse suffered by her grandmother, the treatment of a disabled cousin, and class-tensions between her family and their employees on the ranch.
Part anthropological document, part lyrical interpretation, Kús is a jarring book-length poem by Karen Villeda, one of Mexico's most awarded young poets. Each of Villeda's books is an object crafted into artifact that erases the boundaries between documentation and poetry. Her work begs the reader to question the objectivity of anthropology and the entire apparatus we use to make sense of the past. In Kús, Villeda strives to capture the pain of colonization by examining the relationship between father and children, colonizer and colonized, and the land and the people who inhabit it. The reader stumbles upon this work like a relic, an heirloom clue about who we are as readers and what historical events have led us to where we are today. The power of this poetry is that it is beguilingly didactic, stimulating the senses we use to analyze but also the ones we employ to feel deep emotion. This surprising medium, a mixture of history, anthropology, literature, and invention makes Villeda’s poetry a startling and moving departure from reality; a surreal exploration of when history falls apart at the seams and becomes art.
by karen villeda
Presentation of No Way Back with Los Libros Del Perro Press
Thrilled to have been a presenter for Los Libros del Perro's reissue of No Way Back with the author, Claudia Morales, poet, Juan Carlos Cabrera Pons, and publisher, Zel Cabrera.
The Dodo flips between four different narrative perspectives, past and present, like slides rotating in a projector; alternating flashes of darkness and light--flashbulb visions of adolescence come and gone. These rapidly evolving chapters provide the Dodo, Catalina, with clues about the mysterious disappearance of her mother all the while exploring concepts of masculinity, homosexuality, authoritarianism, and fascism. As the novel progresses and Catalina draws nearer to discovering the truth about her revolutionary mother, the narrative imagery becomes more grand, stranger, wholly enmeshed with the absurdity of the historical facts themselves; there is an underground insurgency, prophetic dreams linked to a preserved anaconda skin, a ghost who takes down telephone messages and the sexual awakening of a burgeoning trapeze artist. These stories, set against the history of Chile's violent USA-backed coup and dictatorship and the youth-led resistance who fought against it, are unraveled more than a decade later by the Dodo, whose unorthodox coming of age journey illustrates the perils of inter-generational trauma and the stranger than fiction nature of adolescence.
Learn more about Mandy here.
by Mandy Gutmann-González
Out now from Catapult Press featuring my translation of Iván Parra Garcia's story, "The Resplendence of Disappearing."
Learn more about Iván here.
Praise for Tiny Nightmares:
"...translated from the original Spanish by Allana C. Noyes into spare, brittle English that recalls Cormac McCarthy." in Kirkus Reviews.