cover image Las Antipodas y el Siglo

Las Antipodas y el Siglo

Ignacio Padilla. Editorial Espasa, $16.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-84-239-2621-3

Padilla (b. 1968) is one of the best-known authors of Mexico's Crack group, which rose to prominence in 1999 when Jorge Volpi's novel En busca de Klingsor (In Search of Klingsor, Seix Barral, 2001) received the prestigious Premio Biblioteca Breve. (For another Crack novel, see Pedro Angel Palou's Demasiadas vidas, reviewed below.) Padilla also won Spain's Primavera award with his novel Amphitryon (Espasa-Calpe, 2000). In this rich collection of short stories, he continues the Crack group's attempt to go beyond the themes and settings traditional to Mexican and Latin American literature, situating most of his stories in places like India, Nepal, and Rhodesia at the time of the British Empire (1850-1920). By offering snapshots of this grand and sweeping empire, he follows Jorge Luis Borges's dictum that the writer's patrimony is the universe. The ghost of American writer Paul Bowles is also present, as most of the stories deal with clashes between cultures. Padilla seems to suggest that any attempt to translate another culture, to make the ""Other"" accessible to us, is doomed to failure. In other words, every translation is actually a mistranslation. Three stories stand out because of their complex narrative structure and wonderful creation of an alien yet intimate landscape: ""Las Ant!podas y el siglo"" (""The Antipodes and the Century""), ""Darjeeling,"" and ""El chino de las cabezas"" (""The Chinese of the Heads""). Recommended for public and academic libraries and bookstores interested in contemporary Spanish-language fiction. Edmundo Paz Sold n, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY