McSweeney’s Issue 46

An all-translation issue, with the theme of crime literature from Latin America: McSweeney’s Issue 46.

The authors and the translators involved are a good bunch, including Alejandro Zambra, Juan Pablo Villalobos, Rodrigo Rey Rosa, Carolina de Robertis, Katherine Silver, and Jeffrey Grey, Stefan Tobler, and Natasha Wimmer.

David Ulin in the LA Times:

Indeed, the best thing about McSweeney’s 46 is that the work it gathers runs the gamut, from realism to surrealism to hyperrealism and beyond. In “The Face,” by the Peruvian writer Santiago Roncagliolo, a popular singer is found murdered, although we soon learn that she has been using her tours as a front to distribute drugs. Brazilian Bernardo Carvalho’s “Jealousy” unfolds as a single extended paragraph — 11 pages — in which a government official, the Secretary of Public Safety, peppers a crime boss with questions; eventually, we realize that his inquiry is rhetorical, that he cares for no one but himself.

Such a story is about crime in only the most vestigial sense (that is, that it involves the interrogation of a criminal), but this, of course, is part of the point. The most resonant crime writing, after all, is that which uses the form as a way of asking bigger questions, looking for connection, as all effective fiction must.

One of the pleasures of the issue is that, other than Juan Pablo Villalobos, these writers are new to me. Even more, it’s the work itself, which takes us from Cuba to Mexico to Argentina, and contains some unexpected echoes, reflecting what Galera characterizes as “the so-called ‘anxiety of influence’: when everything is available as a reference and pretty much everything has already been made, unmade, and remade.”

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