Category Archives: daniel sada

Graywolf to Publish Daniel Sada’s “Almost Never”

DanielSada_CL
I've just heard from Graywolf that they've acquired the rights to Mexican novelist Daniel Sada's book Casi Nunca ("Almost Never"). The book is scheduled for U.S. publication in 2010 or 2011. You can read a review of Casi nunca at Letras Libres.

This is great news, as it marks the first English translation of a major contemporary Mexican author, a man often compared to the likes of Juan Rulfo and even Roberto Bolano.

Sada was among the authors selected for Dalkey's recent anthology, Best of Contemporary Mexican Fiction, and I found Sada's contribution good enough to single out in my review:

The feel of “The Woman in the Red Coat” is similar to that of Daniel
Sada’s “The Ominous Phenomenon.” Here, and for virtually the only time
in the collection, we finally see Mexico’s poor close up, and although
these rurals are possibly illiterate, this story still feels the most
Bolañoian in the collection. As with so much of Bolaño, “The Ominous
Phenomenon” narrates a perfectly purposeless tale full of trivial peaks
and valleys that finally just up and quits before reaching any sort of
climax. It is also the anthology’s grittiest work, the one that feels
the most in the tradition of Rulfo’s peasants.

This is the story: A poor man has been stationed by a landowner on a
“ranch” in the middle of the desert, where there is little for him to
do other than eke out a life of subsistence. One day the landowner
deposits another man with him and charges them to “make bricks,” a job
that necessitates a painful trek over the sun-scorched earth to bring
back precious water for mud, water that should more properly be drunk
by two men who, it becomes clear, are abandoned in the desert. Why are
they making bricks? Will the boss even come back to inspect their
progress? Who knows? After negotiating some minor brushes with machismo
likely to occur between two such men in such a situation, Sada leaves
them, the bricks unmade, the daunting task of dragging back the water
still ahead, neither man any closer to any sort of answer, or even an
explanation.

Daniel Sada Interview

Moleskine Literario points me to an interview with Daniel Sada, the Mexican novelist whose book Casi nunca previously caught my attention.

Now I'm doubly interested in having someone translate this guy.

¡Yo no quiero reflejar la realidad, no me interesa leer la realidad! Yo
la vivo y creo mi realidad personal. Este pacto lo tienen que entender
los que me lean. Siento que el escritor enteramente realista es el más
enriquecido, el más conservador de todos. Si uno no apuesta por algo
fantástico, por los lados ocultos de la realidad, si uno no prevé que
puede haber otros enigmas en la realidad, como escritor y autor está
muy limitado. Argentina es el único país con tradición fantástica,
estamos encerrados en el realismo. Ni siquiera la magia y el
pensamiento del realismo mágico hay que inventar. La realidad mexicana
a lo mejor es fantástica. . . .

En las universidades norteamericanas se está analizando el problema de
la concentración en la lectura y si antes un estudiante de Harvard leía
tres horas diarias, ahora difícilmente lo haga más de una hora. El
mundo moderno nos instala una gama de distractores por todos lados.
Estamos saturados. Uno tiene que tener en cuenta el hecho de que el
lector se puede escapar en cualquier momento. Todo se está
contaminando, no hay purismos en nada, ya no hay totalidades, ni del
lenguaje, ni de la novela, ni de nada, todo está como en piezas… Como
diría Rubem Fonseca: el que ha muerto es el lector, no la novela.

For what it's worth, Sada's contribution to Best of Contemporary Mexican Fiction is excellent, one of the best in the anthology. It really embodies what Sada describes above as the "occult sides of reality." Somewhat similar to Roberto Bolano, the story feels completely flat and even banal, but it's suffused with a feeling of something more, unseen but definitely not unfelt.

Although, the Spanish is fairly difficult. Not sure if this is a matter of archaic words or what, but if that story is any indication, I don't think I'll be reading him in the original.

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