Random House Trade, Paperback, 9780812978438, 331pp.
Publication Date: August 11, 2009
In these spectacular vignettes, the internationally acclaimed author Carlos Fuentes explores Tolstoy’s classic observation that “happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” In “A Family Like Any Other,” each member of the Pagán family lives in isolation, despite sharing a tiny house. In “The Mariachi’s Mother,” the limitless devotion of a woman is revealed as she secretly tends to her estranged son’s wounds. “Sweethearts” reunites old lovers unexpectedly and opens up the possibilities for other lives and other loves. These are just a few of the remarkable stories in Happy Families, but they all inhabit Fuentes’s trademark Mexico, where modern obsessions bump up against those of the mythic past–and the result is a triumphant display of the many ways we reach out to one another and find salvation through irrepressible acts of love.
Fuentes was born in Panama City, the son of Mexican parents, and moved to Mexico as a teenager. He served as an ambassador to England and France, and taught at universities including Harvard, Princeton, Brown and Columbia. He died in Mexico City in 2012.
Acclaimed for her best-selling translations of Cervantes, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Mario Vargas Llosa, Edith Grossman has received many awards including the PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation. She lives in New York City.
“Completely captivating and entertaining, with Fuentes’s superb style (exciting language that snaps with fervency) and his trademark characterizations dancing off the page.”—Booklist
“[Fuentes has a] masterful ability to evoke the sounds, smells, sights and mythic history of his native land.”—Seattle Times
“A kaleidoscope of indelible images . . . Fuentes gives poignant voice to the many denizens of Mexico’s streets.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“What makes this collection a joy to read is that each tale is riveting and crucial to the book’s tapestry as a whole. . . . The translation by Edith Grossman [is] a towering achievement that well serves Mr. Fuentes’s witty, ironic and often experimental play with language.”— Washington Times