Terra Nostra Is Not The Carlos Fuentes I Thought I Knew

Terra-nostra As far as I know Carlos Fuentes, he's a writer of realist, politically aware narratives that partake in a modernist ethic. True, he's clearly innovative when it comes to style, but in terms of narrative he decidedly keeps things in the camp of the real.

So, 30 pages into Terra Nostra the Louvre is transparent, the Seine is boiling, six-toed infants are being born. Now I understand why they call this book the last great success of the Latin American Boom. (And as you can see by the image to the left, I was fortunate enough to acquire a copy of the edition with the ugliest cover in the history of the Boom.)

Admittedly, I'm only 30 pages into a book that's nearly 800 pages in length, but I'm kind of liking the magical realism edition of Carlos Fuentes. Definitely curious to see where he goes with this.

And while I'm writing about authors of a Fuentesian ilk, I might as well note that Season of Ash by Jorge Volpi sounds like my next great Latin American read. The back copy on this book bills it as Carlos Fuentes meets Richard Powers (and, indeed, the book comes packaged with a rave from the former). Thumbing through it, it kind of looks like one of those grand European narratives of historical unification . . . something along the lines of The Discovery of Heaven, or Omega Minor, with (dare I say it) a hint of Pynchon.

Recent Posts

Criticism Isn't Free

CR is dedicated to thoughtful, in-depth criticism without regard to what's commercially appealing. It takes tens of hours each month to provide this. Please help make this sort of writing sustainable, either with a subscription or a one-time donation. Thank you!

You could also purchase one of my acclaimed ebooks.


Got Something To Say:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


I just started rereading The Discovery of Heaven, thinking “why isn’t there more with this much scope, facility, and fun?” The description of Season of Ash in the Open Letters catalog sounds awesome. Thanks for pointing it out, Scott!

It took me a while to figure out which one was Season of Ash. I’ve read it in Spanish and liked it, but it wasn’t a great read. A lot more closer to the latter Fuentes than Powers, and not a hint of Pynchon anywhere. Nonetheless it is a very enjoyable book.

Did all of the Gass inspire you to read Terra Nostra?

In the case of Nostra I’ve had it for a while now & have long meant to read it, although it’s more than likely that earlier readings of Gass helped get me interested in Latin American fiction.

Just finished (and reviewed) Aura..my first Fuentes…Interesting but left me wishing for larger Sample Size… Those @ Fictional Woods that have read Terra Nostra loved it (not en toto though)


The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

Shop though these links = Support this site

Copyright © 2019. Powered by WordPress & Romangie Theme.