In this week's edition of Endnotes, we take a look at Nicolás Medina Mora's debut novel, América del Norte, which, in its review, PW called "incisive and witty" and "an arresting novel of ideas."

Here's how the book came together.

Janine Agro, Production and Art Director, Soho Press

“We wanted a classic painting by a Mexican artist or a classic painting of Mexico. Once we landed on that, we wanted to layer in a graphic, like the comet. In doing so, we highlighted the comet that would spark the downfall of Montezuma but also disrupted a peaceful historic scene with explosions foreshadowing present-day realizations the main character was to experience.”

Elias Altman Literary Agent, Massie & McQuilkin

“Voice on the page is an alchemical thing, hard to define, impossible to fake sustainably—you know it when you hear it. Within the first few pages, I knew I wanted to invest in this book. I loved Nico’s ambition to play with historical forms, not shy away from ideas, and interrogate the self.”

Mark Doten, Executive Editor, Soho Press

“Most of the job was giving Nico space and encouragement to make the novel even more of what it was when I first saw it. More digressions, more leaps through history, more hard shifts in style. I also noted some moments where he might make his protagonist more insecure and, with that, more of a jerk. It’s a novel about a young man, a combustible mix of self-confidence and self-doubt, navigating the world of literature, so, of course, the guy’s going to be a little extra.”

Nicolás Medina Mora, Author

“Many editors praised América del Norte but felt that it was too unconventional—too long, too bookish, too foreign.
To my great fortune, Mark understood what I was trying to do. He was the perfect editor for me: he’s American but lives in Mexico City, so he understands the context of the two worlds the book was trying to conjure, not to mention that he’s extremely well-read in Latin American literature. Perhaps that’s why he encouraged me to make the novel longer, funnier, and weirder.”