Heavens on Earth

Cármen Boullosa, trans. from the Spanish by Shelby Vincent. Deep Vellum (Consortium, dist.), $16.95 trade paper (408p) ISBN 978-1-94192-044-2
Boullosa’s ambitious novel unfolds a triptych on the past, present, and future of her native Mexico. The initial narrator is the scholar Lear, who dwells in our future in a supposed utopia called L’Atlàntide that’s in the process of abolishing memory, dreams, and language itself. Doomed to watch his world willfully forgetting its past, Lear discovers a text in Latin by a 16th-century Aztec priest named Don Hernando de Rivas, a native of the city-state of Texcoco. Don Hernando sees the coming of the conquistadors to Mexico and witnesses his people brought to heel by the Franciscan friars, who threaten to eradicate the Aztecs’ cultural memory. Between Lear and Don Hernando is the latter’s original translator, Estela Ruiz, a 20th-century resident of Mexico City who, having come of age in the hopeful and progressive ’70s, now sees her world ruptured between its post-revolutionary present and its colonial past. The affinity among these three narrators bridges language, culture, and time, as they muse on their respective lineages, experience visions, and rail helplessly against the tide of modernization that depends on the annihilation of their shared history. Boullosa’s message about how individuals must inculcate the past amid the indifference of the present comes through, making for a thought-provoking, if sometimes trying, novel. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/23/2017
Release date: 10/01/2017
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 384 pages - 978-1-941920-45-9
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