cover image Amphitryon


Ignacio Padilla. Espasa Calpe Mexicana, S.A., $24.95 (219pp) ISBN 978-84-239-7977-6

In 1996, Padilla was part of a group of young Mexican writers who penned a largely ignored manifesto against Latin American ""banana"" literature and in favor of experimental and authentic writing that is not limited to Latin themes. The literary world can no longer ignore Padilla or this literary movement now known as ""Crack,"" which signifies a break with tradition. Amphitryon, Padilla's fourth novel, won him the prestigious Spanish Premio Primavera Novela in 2000. The award came a year after another Crack generation writer, Jorge Volpi, won the Premio Biblioteca Breve for his novel En Busca de Klingsor (In Search of Klingsor). Set in Europe during World War I, World War II, and the Cold War, Padilla's tightly structured novel is separated into four sections with various narrators and characters with multiple identities. A significant part of the action takes place inside trains, and cataclysmic conflicts are often resolved with chess games that have life-or-death consequences. A male-centered novel the only female character is a narrator's mother this work is rife with war scenes, military strategies, and racial tension. The tales are smart and intriguing, and the writing is dense and sharp. This novel is reminiscent of classic Russian literature, and it is likely to be considered one of the groundbreaking classics of this genre. Recommended for all libraries.