Some Mexican novels include Fernando Del Paso’s “News from the Empire,” Roberto Bolaño’s “2666” and Mario Bellatin’s “Beauty Salon.” These novels rank among the most acclaimed works of modern Latin American literature.
A landmark of Mexican literature, Fernando Del Paso’s “News from the Empire” is a sprawling historical novel based on the life of the little-known Maximillian I, an Austrian who briefly served as the emperor of Mexico during the 19th century. A fragmented, panoramic novel, the book moves back and forth through time, depicting the struggles of Maximilian, his wife Carlota and the turbulent century in which they find themselves.
Born in Chile, Roberto Bolaño spent his early life in Mexico, and much of his fiction centers on the country. Published shortly after his death, “2666” is Bolaño’s magnum opus, a piercing reflection on violence, literature and Mexican identity. The novel’s numerous characters, including a reclusive novelist, a troubled police detective and a widowed philosopher, all converge in a fictionalized version of Mexico’s Ciudad Juarez, the site of hundreds of mysterious murders of women.
Mario Bellatin’s short, surreal novel “Beauty Salon” made his name in Mexican literature. The book centers on a strange plague that descends on an unnamed Mexican city, inspiring the salon-owning narrator to convert his business into a makeshift hospice. As more patients gather in the beauty salon, the narrator only grows more deranged and detached.