Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Carlos Fuentes gone but not forgotten

The Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes is the subject of a small literary boom on the anniversary of his death.

The Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes is the subject of a small literary boom on the anniversary of his death.

Fuentes died May 15, 2012, at 83. Two weeks ago, his North American publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, released more than a dozen of his works as e-books for the first time, including the epic and groundbreaking 1962 novel The Death of Artemio Cruz.

Artemio Cruz tells a sweeping story that's at the heart of the birth of modern Mexico. Its protagonist is a general in the Mexican Revolution who becomes a leader in the exceedingly corrupt political party that dominated Mexico for most of the 20th century.

Another of the books, the 1985 novel The Old Gringo, was the first book by a Mexican author to make a U.S. best-seller list. It was made into a movie in 1989, starring Gregory Peck and Jane Fonda.

In Mexico, the publisher Siglo XXI announced that it would release a new book based on the letters between Fuentes and one of his first editors, Arnaldo Orfila. Orfila worked at Siglo XXI and other Mexico City publishing houses and was a key figure in the Latin American literary boom of the 1960s and '70s.

Also, the Mexico City newspaper Reforma published two letters Fuentes wrote as a teenager studying in Chile.

In the first, the 14-year-old Fuentes writes to a friend in Mexico in 1943 to talk about his career goals: "With respect to my career, the doctor thing is rubbish," the young Fuentes writes. "Now I'm thinking of becoming a lawyer, but only as a last resort, since I'm thinking of dedicating myself completely to politics and the liberation of the proletariat."

The website Sopitas reports that Fuentes left behind files with thousands of pages of documents.

It also published the citation Fuentes received from his high school, the Colegio Frances, after winning a school literary prize in 1945 at age 17: "Fuentes' style, at times too precious and exaggerated, possess[es] agility and subtlety capable of producing work of artistic value. His imagination is dazzling. The figures that his pen produces are varied and engaging."

Less than a dozen years later, Fuentes completed his critically acclaimed first novel, another book released as an e-book by FSG: Where the Air Is Clear.