A CERTAIN MULATA by Miguet Angel Asturias


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This book defies description. Let alone any explanation as to why it is being translated into English. It begins with the hero, a woodcutter, strolling through a fair with his fly open, something he does for Tazol, god of corn leaves. It continues, inevitably, to become more and more bizarre and outrageous. The woodcutter sells his wife to Tazol for wealth and takes another, a mulata, a real bitch of a woman. He retrieves the little clay figure of his first wife, who, when she becomes human, is a dwarf. The couple lock up the mulata with the moon. When she escapes and destroys the countryside, they flee. They meet drunkards who are now magical pigs. Later they decide to be a wizard and a witch. Tazol impregnates the wife through the navel. The wife turns the woodcutter into a dwarf, then a giant, when he tries to marry another dwarf. The mulata turns up as a priest, then a thousand legged spider. She fights with the woodcutter, who is a hedgehog. They are going to be married in a death ceremony when the first wife snatches away the mulata's sex. The book is very much like a Bosch painting. It clearly reveals the author's wild-eyed preoccupation with the perverse relationships between carnality and religion. But unlike Bosch, Asturias does not even make the surface fascinating. The book is prosaic, with erratic, badly phrased poetics.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1967
Publisher: Delacorte