Books by Edith Grossman

I'M NOT HERE TO GIVE A SPEECH by Gabriel García Márquez
Released: Jan. 8, 2019

"Essential truths in the rare and generous voice of a maestro."
A set of speeches given over the course of his long literary career offers snapshots of the Colombian author's uniquely eloquent humanitarian voice and vision. Read full book review >
Released: March 20, 2018

"A complex but rewarding meditation on the monstrous dreams of reason."
Spanish novelist and art historian Rojas delivers a politically charged, time-shifting portrait of the painter Francisco Goya in a time of repression. Read full book review >
THE NEIGHBORHOOD by Mario Vargas Llosa
Released: Feb. 6, 2018

"A colorful but confusing and ultimately disappointing work by a great writer."
Sex, money, scandal, and power dance through this uneven tale of gossip and politics among the high-enders and media lowlifes of Lima, Peru. Read full book review >
EXEMPLARY NOVELS by Miguel de Cervantes
Released: Nov. 22, 2016

"Late works from a font of so much subsequent literature; essential for students of literary history."
Cervantes' follow-up to Don Quixote, retold for a new generation of readers. Read full book review >
THE DISCREET HERO by Mario Vargas Llosa
Released: March 10, 2015

"This master storyteller ensures that the book is continually intriguing and charming. Yet taken together, the two narratives don't make a strong whole, rather more a theme and variation that can seem sometimes dangerously close to what Rigoberto at one point calls his side of the story: a soap opera."
The Nobel laureate weaves together the tragicomic misfortunes of two families and several friends in this tale of crime, passion and avarice. Read full book review >
IN THE NIGHT OF TIME by Antonio Muñoz Molina
Released: Dec. 3, 2013

"A simple love story at one level, a broad portrait of a nation in flames at another, and a masterwork through and through."
Superb novel of the Spanish Civil War, ranking among the best of the many books written about that conflict. Read full book review >
THE DREAM OF THE CELT by Edith  Grossman
Released: June 12, 2012

"A dazzling novel of great intensity and power. "
The Celt in question is Sir Roger Casement, who advocated on behalf of oppressed natives of the Congo and of Amazonia, but when he turns his attention to the Irish Troubles in 1916, the British feel he's gone too far, so he's caught, tried and executed. Read full book review >
DESTINY AND DESIRE by Carlos Fuentes
Released: Jan. 4, 2011

"A compelling novel by one of the masters of contemporary fiction."
A novel of substance about friendship, philosophy and politics set in the "thousand-headed hydra of Mexico City" from the prolific pen of distinguished man of letters Fuentes (The Death of Artemio Cruz, 2009, etc.). Read full book review >
RED APRIL by Santiago Roncagliolo
Released: April 28, 2009

"An angry, despairing dispatch, punctuated with illiterate notes from a killer and equally meaningless reports in bureaucratic doublespeak, from a land torn apart by civil war and official denial."
A latter-day Candide gets a crash course in Peruvian terrorism and counter-terrorism in Roncagliolo's precocious debut, winner of the 2006 Alfaguara Prize. Read full book review >
HAPPY FAMILIES by Carlos Fuentes
Released: Sept. 30, 2008

"A lesser work than such fully achieved recent fictions as The Years with Laura Diaz and The Eagle's Throne, but of real interest as a Latin American little brother to John Dos Passos's U.S.A., the book that may have inspired it."
Sixteen cleverly varied short stories, separated by mostly free-verse interludes, form a broad image of modern Mexico in the latest fiction from that country's most prominent writer (The Eagle's Throne, 2006, etc.). Read full book review >
A MANUSCRIPT OF ASHES by Antonio Muñoz Molina
Released: Aug. 1, 2008

"A wearying, headache-inducing exercise in 'literary' mystery."
Specters from the Spanish Civil War and the ghost of tragic love haunt the latest from award-winning Molina (In Her Absence, 2007, etc.). Read full book review >
THE BAD GIRL by Mario Vargas Llosa
Released: Oct. 15, 2007

"A contemporary master remains at the top of his game."
The Peruvian-born author's latest novel is an impressive logical extension of the seriocomic romances (e.g., Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, In Praise of the Stepmother) that are among his most appealing books. Read full book review >
NADA by Carmen Laforet
Released: Feb. 13, 2007

"Poignant but not outstanding."
Published in 1944, now reissued in a new translation, this influential first novel by prize-winning Spanish author Laforet (1921-2004) describes one hellish year in the life of a young woman. Read full book review >
DANCING TO “ALMENDRA” by Mayra Montero
Released: Feb. 1, 2007

"There's simply too much of everything. Montero captures the reader's attention, but the story flies apart before the reader can take hold of it."
Organized crime and disorganized personal relations are tightly intertwined in the prolific Cuban-born Puerto Rican author's latest (The Captain of the Sleepers, 2005, etc.). Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 25, 2005

"You'll want to know what the 14-year-old, naked next to the 90-year-old man, sees when she looks at herself, but alas, it's never revealed."
An erotic novella from Colombian Nobel laureate García Márquez (Living to Tell the Tale, 2003, etc.), his first fiction in ten years. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 15, 2005

"She's one of Latin America's finest writers, and this is her best novel yet. "
An abortive revolution in postwar Puerto Rico parallels a family's unraveling in Cuban-born Montero's intricate 2002 novel (her sixth in English translation). Read full book review >
DEEP PURPLE by Mayra Montero
Released: May 2, 2003

Music is the ultimate aphrodisiac in this aggressively sexy sixth novel from the Cuban-born author. Read full book review >
THE FEAST OF THE GOAT by Mario Vargas Llosa
Released: Nov. 1, 2001

"A landmark in Latin American fiction."
The Peruvian master (The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto, 1998, etc.) now turns to the bloody reign (1930-61) of the Dominican Republic's dictatorial president Rafael Trujillo—and its aftermath. Read full book review >
THE RED OF HIS SHADOW by Mayra Montero
Released: Aug. 7, 2001

"Overdecorated and underplotted. Not up to Montero's usual standard."
The lush exoticism and sinister supernaturalism of the culture of voudou are evoked in rapturous detail in this unusual novel, the fourth in English translation from the Cuban-born Puerto Rican author (The Last Night I Spent with You, 2000, etc.). Read full book review >
MONSTRUARY by Julián Ríos
Released: March 16, 2001

"So much fun to read that you may not notice how remarkably inventive and suggestive it is. Ríos is an authentic enchanter."
Another pun-derful literary extravaganza from the brilliant Spaniard making a name for himself as a contemporary equivalent of Joyce, Nabokov, and German experimentalist Arno Schmidt. Read full book review >
Released: July 1, 2000

"An insouciantly witty celebration of the mingled folly and grandeur of physical love and its discontents. The best so far from one of Latin America's most impressive recent exports."
The Cuban-born author's fifth novel (and third in English translation, following In the Palm of Darkness, 19xx, and The Messenger, 19xx) depicts in profuse erotic detail the temptations to which a middle-aged married couple separately succumb during a Caribbean vacation voyage. Read full book review >
CARACOL BEACH by Eliseo Alberto
Released: May 16, 2000

"Whether or not these characters grip us, we certainly understand their phlegmatic fatalism, encapsulated in the recurring sentence 'God must know why the hell he does what he does.' Presumably, Alberto does too, but you'd never know it from Caracol Beach."
Arbitrary whimsy and narrative fireworks are the order of two tense days in June in a hitherto sleepy Florida resort (the title town)—in this heavy-breathing 1998 novel by Cuban journalist and poet Alberto. Read full book review >
NEWS OF A KIDNAPPING by Gabriel García Márquez
Released: June 4, 1997

In the same straightforward tone with which he relates the fabulous events of his fiction, Colombia's premier novelist presents the chillingly extraordinary events surrounding the 1992 abduction of ten prominent people by the Medellin drug cartel. For anyone who has doubts about where the real war on drugs is taking place, this is a vivid testimony to what Garcia Marquez calls "the biblical holocaust that has been consuming Colombia for more than twenty years." It is a tale featuring real-life heroes, almost comically absurd events, endless terror, and a satisfyingly dramatic ending. Controlling the events is a man we never meet until the very end—the all-powerful and cunningly elusive Pablo Escobar, the head of the Medellin cartel. Fearing extradition to the US and death at the hands of his competitors more than he fears the Colombian government, he takes the hostages (primarily journalists) as pawns as he negotiates his surrender to the security of a specially prepared Colombian prison. Among the extraordinary men negotiating for the hostages' freedom are Alberto Villamizar, a politician who was himself once an assassination target of Escobar's and whose wife, Maruja, and sister, Beatriz, are both hostages; and the elderly Father Garcia Herreros, known for his daily television homilies and celebrity-studded fundraisers. But at the core of the narrative are the daily terrors and tribulations of the hostages, scattered in groups of two and three in different hiding places under the constant watch of Escobar's young, nihilistic soldiers. Newspaper editor Pacho Santos is chained to his bed at night. Maruja, Beatriz, and the doomed Marina Montoya must share a tiny, dark, airless room with four guards, their trips to the bathroom strictly regulated, their only distraction the television, through which Maruja's daughter, with her own TV show, sends coded messages of support and hope. Garcia Marquez's consummate rendering of this hostage-taking looms as the symbol of an entire country held hostage to invisible yet violently ever-present drug lords. Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 1997

In The Palm Of Darkness ($21.00; May 1997; 192 pp.; 0-06-018703- 4): A Cuban writers's intensely imaginative portrait of the extremities of Haitian culture rings some fresh changes on the overfamiliar theme of intellectual arrogance humbled by its collision with ``elemental'' peasant wisdom. Montero subtly builds up a revealing contrast between Victor Griggs, a European herpetologist searching for the remaining specimens of an endangered species of amphibian, and his native guide Thierry Adrien's memories of his family's encounter with the island's ubiquitous spirits. This truly original novel is studded with surprises—not least of which is the concept of a species suddenly and entirely disappearing in a milieu where the living and the dead are known to mingle together more or less matter-of-factly. A refreshingly sophisticated treat. (Author tour) Read full book review >
OF LOVE AND OTHER DEMONS by Gabriel García Márquez
Released: May 18, 1995

A bittersweet-comic version of all living things anchors this enchanting short novel by the acknowledged master of magical realism (Strange Pilgrims, 1993, etc.). In fiat, reportorial tones (perfectly captured in Grossman's eloquent translation), the 1982 Nobel — winner spins an extravagant tale of ethnic contrast and cosmic dislocation, set in a Colombian-like South American backwater near the Caribbean Sea. When 12-year-old Sierva Maria, only child of a desiccated marquis and his dissolute lowborn wife, is bitten by a rabid dog, the girl's mendacious disposition and unsophisticated demeanor are interpreted as signs of demonic possession. Held captive in an austere convent, she is denounced by a bigoted abbess, befriended by a kindly murderer, and adored from afar, then more intimately, by Father Cayetano Delaura, the diocese librarian whose surprised discovery of passion both complicates and transfigures his bookish, selfless existence. The tale of their thwarted love resonates down the years as a union of opposites that's all but anathema to a culture whose prosperity is built on a thriving slave trade and whose privileged classes live in fear that their servants will rise up and murder them in their beds. Garcia Marquez mockingly breaks down conventional barriers between not just masters and servants, but also whites and blacks, clergy and laity, humans and animals. This is a world in which bats drain the blood of sleeping humans, a 100-year-old horse is buried in holy ground, and a learned physician imperturbably straddles the metaphysical boundaries separating life and death. In a society distinguished by "so much mixing of bloodlines," it is implied, people and things blend into and become one another — despite the repressive exertions of wealth and power, and the delusory authority of a religion that sees demons in every instance of dissent or independence. Written with masterly economy, brimming with colorful episodes and vividly sketched characters: a haunting, cautionary tale that ranks among the author's best. Read full book review >
STRANGE PILGRIMS by Gabriel García Márquez
Released: Oct. 21, 1993

Of the entire generation of Latin-American Boom writers, Garcia Marquez (The General and His Labyrinth, 1990, etc.) has shied away the most from writing about the expatriate experience he and his peers have so determinedly lived for decades. This book of 12 stories redresses that somewhat forced oddness. A lot is slight here, mere sketchery (Garcia Marquez admits in the preface that a number of the tales are reworkings of journalistic pieces or screenplays): "Sleeping Beauty and the Airplane" recounts a transatlantic flight with a beautiful stranger in the next seat, sound asleep and paying the infatuated narrator no mind; "I Sell My Dreams" is mostly an excuse for a portrait of Pablo Neruda; "Tramontania" pays homage to the madness-making wind of the Costa Brava in the form of a Maupassant-ish anecdote (much here, in fact, is reminiscent of Maupassant: little details that bloom into destinies). But included here are also two masterpieces. "Maria dos Prazeres"—the story of an old whore's mistaken premonition of death—is woven with those fluorescent touches that Garcia Marquez is known for (the interior of a car "smelled of refrigerated medicine") and with a leisure of wonder that, happily, never seems strained. The other classic is "The Trail of Your Blood in the Snow"—as acidic a portrait of French inhumanity as satire can accomplish, but also a wizardly capsule of the strangeness all travelers feel and only sometimes can surmount. Garcia Marquez's generosity more than his effect-making is at deepest play in both- -and they do his career great credit. Read full book review >