One of the major national newspapers of Mexico City, La Reforma, published this great piece recently on the World Fantasy Award nomination for Three Messages and a Warning. It helps explain what a big deal it is from the perspective of the Mexican writers included in the anthology to get a major English-language genre award. I thought it worth translating into English.
August 27, 2013
COMPILING FANTASTIC WRITING
Fiction anthology edited in US
Book nominated for the World Fantasy Award—a prize won by Stephen King
by Rebeca Pérez
The streets of Mexico produce interesting literature.
Maybe it's because they are the scene of incredible inventions driving to an apocalyptic or technology-filled future, but they also offer settings full of nooks and crannies ready for the imagination.
That's the view of the American writer and editor Chris N. Brown, who, together with Eduardo Jiménez Mayo, compiled an anthology of 34 Mexican authors united around fantasy and science fiction themes.
Titled Three Messages and a Warning: Contemporary Mexican Short Stories of the Fantastic (Small Beer Press, 2012), this anthology of stories by authors like Bernardo Fernández BEF, Albero Chimal, Pepe Rojo, Hernán Lara Zavala, and Ana Clavel, has earned a nomination for the World Fantasy Award in the anthology category.
This prize was created in 1975, and is the most prestigious of the genre. It has been awarded to authors like Haruki Murakami, Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, George R.R. Martin, Alan Garner and Karen Joy Fowler, among others. This year's winners will be announced November 3 during the 2013 World Fantasy Convention in the United Kingdom.
While only a nomination, the editor affirms that it is an important validation of the creativity and imagination of the authors collected in the book, as well as an award that could generate greater interest in Mexican literature among international readers and writers.
"I think this nomination will lead to more translation of Mexican writers of fantastic literature, and to more anthologies of translated works from other countries and languages," affirmed the Texan writer.
"For me, the most valuable thing these diverse Mexican writers share is a recognition that reason alone is inadequate to explain the experience of the world we live in, and that literature provides us the tools to explore and document the uncanny side of life," added the editor.
This creation of the anthology began in 2009, when Chris was invited to participate in a binational science fiction conference as part of the Festival of the Historic Downtown of Mexico City.
The trip generated many revelations for him. He felt that the Mexican capital was a window into the sprawling city of a science fiction future, and it put him in contact with authors who exposed him to interesting new experiences.
"I thought the energetic young Mexican writers were in many respects more interesting than my Anglo-American colleagues, and that my fellow readers and writers in the US would be interested in hearing their voices," said Brown.
"The Mexican writers provide an intensely rich and multicultural 21st century voice. I think that global network access liberates them a bit from the folkloric confines in which many North American readers tend to situate Mexican artistic product. They are well past the postcolonial. The writers in the anthology are totally global and uniquely Mexican all at the same time," explained Brown.
Several of the authors who participated in the anthology affirm that the World Fantasy Award nomination is important for the nation's literature, because other genres have not received recognition of this sort.
They hope it helps Mexican writing to be translated and marketed in other publishing markets.
"I hope this nomination generates more interest for Mexican literature among the English language market, which as you know does not give much attention to writers in other languages," said Mauricio Montiel Figueiras, who participated with the story "Photophobia."
For Pepe Rojo, who provided the story "The President Without Organs," this distinction should be treated as a major event, but to the contrary hasn't received the attention it merits.
"The nomination of the anthology is phenomenal, and reveals a crisis in Mexican literature," he said. "There have been no reviews or notices of the book in Mexico, and even the nomination has passed by without any real notice in the cultural world down here."
"It really is an unprecedented success that raises the possibility that Mexican literature will open doors that were always closed before." — Alberto Chimal, writer
"It's an unusual thing for Mexican literature to be considered for the most prestigious English language prize for the literature of the fantastic, and I see it as a spectacular collective achievement." —BEF, writer