Random House, Hardcover, 9781400066889, 352pp.
Publication Date: September 23, 2008
The internationally acclaimed author Carlos Fuentes, winner of the Cervantes Prize and the Latin Civilization Award, delivers a stunning work of fiction about family and love across an expanse of Mexican life, reminding us why he has been called “a combination of Poe, Baudelaire, and Isak Dinesen” (Newsweek).
In these masterly vignettes, 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 Pagan 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.
In this spectacular translation, the acclaimed Edith Grossman captures the full weight of Fuentes’s range. Whether writing in the language of the street or in straightforward, elegant prose, Fuentes gives us stories connected by love, including the failure of love–between spouses, lovers, parents and children, siblings. From the Mexican presidential palace to the novels of the poor and the vast expanse of humanity in between, Happy Families is a magnificent portrait of modern life in all its complicated beauty, as told by one of the world’s most celebrated writers.
Praise for Carlos Fuentes
Winner of the Cervantes Prize
The Old Gringo
“A dazzling novel that possesses the weight and resonance of myth [and] the fierce magic of a remembered dream.”
–The New York Times
The Death of Artemio Cruz
“Remarkable in the scope of the human drama it pictures, the corrosive satire and sharp dialogue.”
–The New York Times Book Review
The Years with Laura Díaz
“Reading this magnificent novel is like standing beneath the dome of the Sistine Chapel. . . . The breadth and enormity of this accomplishment is breathtaking.”
–The Denver Post
This I Believe
“Engaging, offering surprising conclusions, provocations or turns of phrase . . . Put down the page-turner and dare to drink these full-bodied, red, shining words.”
–Los Angeles Times Book Review
The Eagle’s Throne
“Dazzling, razor-sharp . . . prescient . . . a feast of political insight.”
–The Washington Post Book World
Carlos Fuentes is the author of more than twenty books, including The Eagle’s Throne, This I Believe, The Death of Artemio Cruz, and The Old Gringo. He served as Mexico’s ambassador to France from 1975 to 1977. He has received many awards and honors, including the Rómulo Gallegos Prize, the National Prize in Literature (Mexico’s highest literary award), the Cervantes Prize, and the inaugural Latin Civilization Award. He has also been the recipient of France’s Legion of Honor medal, Italy’s Grinzane Cavour Award, Spain’s Prince of Asturias Award, and Brazil’s Order of the Southern Cross. His work has appeared in The Nation, Vanity Fair, The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, Los Angeles Times Book Review, and The Washington Post Book World. He currently divides his time between Mexico City and London.
Edith Grossman, the winner of a number of translating awards, most notably the 2006 PEN Ralph Manheim Medal, is the distinguished translator of works by major Spanish-language authors, including Gabriel García Márquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, Mayra Montero, and Alvaro Mutis, as well as Carlos Fuentes. Her translation of Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote was published to great acclaim in 2003.
“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