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19 June 1986
The Old Gringo 
translated by Margaret Sayers Peden and Carlos Fuentes, by Carlos Fuentes.
Deutsch, 199 pp., £8.95, May 1986, 0 233 97862 3
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Where the air is clear 
by Carlos Fuentes, translated by Sam Hileman.
Deutsch, 376 pp., £4.95, June 1986, 0 233 97937 9
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Farewell to the Sea 
by Reinaldo Arenas, translated by Andrew Hurley.
Viking, 412 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 0 670 52960 5
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Digging up the mountains 
by Neil Bissoondath.
Deutsch, 247 pp., £8.95, May 1986, 0 233 97851 8
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... CarlosFuentes is one of those unusual novelists who would make the International Who’s Who even if he had never written a novel. As a public man, Fuentes’s career has been directed to Mexico’s uneasy relationship with the outside world – he was Mexican Ambassador to France from 1975 to 1977. As a novelist, he explores the internal character of ...


Patrick Parrinder

23 November 1989
Christopher Unborn 
by Carlos Fuentes, translated by Alfred MacAdam.
Deutsch, 531 pp., £13.95, October 1989, 0 233 98016 4
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The Faber Book of Contemporary Latin American Short Stories 
edited by Nick Caistor.
Faber, 188 pp., £11.99, September 1989, 0 571 15359 3
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by Gore Vidal.
Deutsch, 543 pp., £12.95, November 1989, 9780233984957
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Oldest living Confederate widow tells all 
by Allan Gurganus.
Faber, 718 pp., £12.99, November 1989, 9780571142019
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... greater part of the old republic has been annexed by the United States, and further north still the Last Playboy Centerfold Contest is being held in Chicago – perhaps the one cheerful prophecy that CarlosFuentes has to offer. Meanwhile, Chile is struck by a catastrophic earthquake, so that the whole country together with General Pinochet (who is still its leader) dissolves like a sugar lump into the ...

A Show of Heads

Carlos Fuentes

19 March 1987
I the Supreme 
by Augusto Roa Bastos, translated by Helen Lane.
Faber, 433 pp., £9.95, March 1987, 0 571 14626 0
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... In the autumn of 1967 in London, I coincided with the Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa. We had both read, recently and with admiration, as well as a touch of envy, Edmund Wilson’s masterly portraits of the American Civil War, Patriotic Gore. Sitting in a pub in Hampstead, we thought it would be a good idea to have a comparable book on Latin America. An imaginary portrait gallery immediately stepped ...


A.J. Ayer: More of A.J. Ayer’s Life

22 December 1983
... it be an academic, nor was any period set to the tenure of the Fellowship. Mr Edward Heath had held it in the course of a very short visit to Dartmouth; my immediate predecessor, the Mexican writer CarlosFuentes, for the best part of a year. I was originally invited only for the autumn term of 1982, but the invitation was extended to the winter term of 1983. We returned to London for the month of ...

Instant Fellini

Tessa Hadley: Carlos Fuentes

12 February 2009
Happy Families 
by Carlos Fuentes, translated by Edith Grossman.
Bloomsbury, 332 pp., £17.99, October 2008, 978 0 7475 9528 1
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... number of possible versions coexist in the women’s ideas of themselves, all have explanatory power, none of them is sufficient in itself. The scene is strange with the strangeness characteristic of Fuentes’s writing. The garage is not quite a real place, and these characters are not fleshed out and made believable according to realist conventions. But the treatment isn’t parable-like either, it ...


Robert Taubman

5 August 1982
by John Barth.
Secker, 366 pp., £7.50, July 1982, 0 436 03675 4
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Distant Relations 
by Carlos Fuentes.
Secker, 225 pp., £7.95, July 1982, 0 436 16764 6
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Keepers of the House 
by Lisa St Aubin de Teran.
Cape, 183 pp., £6.95, July 1982, 0 224 02001 3
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An Old Song 
by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Wilfion Books, 102 pp., £5.95, June 1982, 0 905075 12 9
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... to the tone of the book, that is because the book guards itself against being taken too seriously. But fantasy, in Barth and others who have revived it recently, is not a substitute for life. In CarlosFuentes it seems nothing but a substitute. His model is literature – and of the most depressing, fin-de-siècle kind. Distant Relations asks to be admired for the quality of its settings (Toltec ...

Clean Sweep

Philip Horne

10 May 1990
Love and Garbage 
by Ivan Klima, translated by Ewald Osers.
Chatto, 217 pp., £12.95, March 1990, 0 7011 3362 7
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The Storyteller 
by Mario Vargas Llosa, translated by Helen Lane.
Faber, 246 pp., £12.99, April 1990, 0 571 15208 2
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The Chase 
by Alejo Carpentier, translated by Alfred Mac Adam.
Deutsch, 122 pp., £9.95, March 1990, 0 233 98550 6
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by Carlos Fuentes, translated by Lysander Kemp.
Deutsch, 88 pp., £9.95, April 1990, 0 233 98470 4
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... the reader as such a poignant reality. Alejo Carpentier’s powerful, oppressive, bewildering novella The Chase, published in Spanish in 1956 and now translated, is elaborately hailed on the back by CarlosFuentes as the work of the inventor of ‘magical realism’, ‘our father’. It certainly has, like Fuentes’s own 1965 Aura, a seriously ‘literary side’. Its highly-worked, modernistic ...
21 May 1981
Loitering with Intent 
by Muriel Spark.
Bodley Head, 221 pp., £6.50, May 1981, 0 370 30900 6
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Burnt Water 
by Carlos Fuentes, translated by Margaret Peden.
Secker, 231 pp., £6.50, January 1981, 0 436 16763 8
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The Leaves on Grey 
by Desmond Hogan.
Picador, 119 pp., £1.50, April 1981, 0 330 26287 4
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Children of Lir 
by Desmond Hogan.
Hamish Hamilton, 136 pp., £6.95, April 1981, 0 241 10608 7
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Walking naked 
by Nina Bawden.
Macmillan, 220 pp., £5.95, April 1981, 0 333 31304 6
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... any case it sets up barriers to the outsider, beliefs and superstitions, loyalties and betrayals, convictions and failures of conviction, that are subtly unfamiliar to the rest of the Western world. CarlosFuentes, still only 53, has written film-scripts for Buñuel, besides a large body of fiction and essays. To the outside world he is the outstanding figure in contemporary Mexican letters, a bitter ...

Closer to God

Adam Bradbury

14 May 1992
1492: The Life and Times of Juan Cabezon of Castile 
by Homero Aridjis, translated by Betty Ferber.
Deutsch, 284 pp., £14.99, October 1991, 0 233 98727 4
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The Campaign 
by Carlos Fuentes, translated by Alfred MacAdam.
Deutsch, 246 pp., £14.99, November 1991, 0 233 98726 6
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The Penguin Book of Latin American Short Stories 
edited by Thomas Colchie.
Viking, 448 pp., £15.99, January 1992, 0 670 84299 0
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... Mexican literature will be great because it’s literature, not because it’s Mexican,’ yelled Angel in CarlosFuentes’s magnificent dystopia, Christopher Unborn. We may be on dodgy ground, then, lumping together two Mexican novels – one about the South American uprising of 1810 and one about the expulsion of the ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Dictator’

7 June 2012
The Dictator 
directed by Larry Charles.
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... time you say, General’), and there is even a genre known as the dictator novel, of which Autumn of the Patriarch is no doubt the most famous instance. When it was learned that the remains of CarlosFuentes, who died last month, were to be taken to Montparnasse Cemetery, observers were not slow to note that Porfirio Díaz, the last Mexican despot – well, the last pre-revolutionary despot – ...


Jonathan Steele

19 December 1985
Fire from the Mountain: The Making of a Sandinista 
by Omar Cabezas, translated by Kathleen Weaver.
Cape, 233 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 224 02814 6
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... spirit is evident not just in the story he tells, but in the vitality of his language. He can be honest about his doubts and fears, tender and lyrical about his dreams. As the Mexican writer CarlosFuentes puts it in his introduction, ‘there is something both Quixote and Crusoe in him, for he imagines a world and also builds it.’ Lucky is the revolutionary who survives to the moment of triumph, as ...

My Americas

Donald Davie

3 September 1981
... to Cape Horn: either that, or else ‘the Americas’, an elegantly archaic usage that we might do well to refurbish. In LRB at the end of May, Graham Hough, reviewing Burnt Water by the Mexican CarlosFuentes,2 complained that, whereas ‘the novel today is virtually an international form,’ so that Tolstoy is still Tolstoy though ‘an English writer to the English, a German to the Germans ...


Christine Brooke-Rose: Palimpsest Histories

10 May 1990
... and which belongs to a type of fiction that has burst on the literary scene in the last quarter of this century and thoroughly renewed the dying art of the novel: Terra Nostra (1976), by the Mexican CarlosFuentes, is another great example. Some have called this development ‘magic realism’. I prefer to call it palimpsest history. First I want to distinguish between various kinds of fictional ...


Rubén Gallo: Mexico’s Shadow Presidency

25 January 2007
... a caudillo. They had a point: López Obrador was suspicious of political analysts and of any intellectual who criticised him. He didn’t like to hear his supporters disagree with him on anything.’ CarlosFuentes, the country’s most famous novelist, was another early supporter who quickly distanced himself. Writing in Le Monde in October, Fuentes warned that López Obrador’s actions after the ...
25 June 1992
The Conquerors 
by André Malraux, translated by Stephen Becker.
Chicago, 198 pp., £8.75, December 1991, 0 226 50290 2
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The Temptation of the West 
by André Malraux, translated by Robert Hollander.
Chicago, 122 pp., £8.75, February 1992, 0 226 50291 0
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The Walnut Tree of Altenburg 
by André Malraux, translated by A.W. Fielding.
Chicago, 224 pp., £9.55, April 1992, 0 226 50289 9
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... age of 75, André Malraux is still a celebrity. The University of Chicago’s new paperback edition of three of his lesser-known works carries a grandiose, Latinate tribute from the Mexican novelist CarlosFuentes: ‘No other writer of the 20th century had the same capacity to translate his personal adventure into a meeting with history and a dialogue of civilisation.’ Two of the three authors who ...

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