Photo: Bernardo De Niz/FIL GUADALAJARA
Carmen Boullosa – the Mexican novelist, poet and playwright – lives in central Brooklyn. She is a host of the CUNY TV programme New York. She has also taught at City College and was a fellow at New York Public Library and the Guggenheim Foundation. Some of her fiction has been translated into English: They’re Cows, We’re Pigs; Cleopatra Dismounts; Leaving Tabasco and The Miracle Worker. Her writing has been praised by writers including Carlos Fuentes, Elena Poniatowska and Roberto Bolaño.
Featured Reading Group Title
El complot de los Románticos (Conspiracy of the Romantics)
The Parnassus is a literary conference that meets annually to award a prize for the best unpublished work of a literary master; it is a conference like no other – all delegates to this conference are deceased. The annual meeting has been held in New York City for many years, but when attendance starts to decline Dante Alighieri is chosen to represent the delegates in a search for a new host city.
Accompanied by a trendy young North American poetess and the Mexican author who narrates most of this delightfully original novel, Dante sets out to determine whether Mexico City will be an appropriate future host. The three unlikely companions mount gigantic, time-traveling rats, stopping en route in a suburban mall (where Dante picks up some Levi’s, a baseball cap, and a T-shirt emblazoned with ‘I love Britney’, whom he later determines—upon viewing a series of her music videos in an electronics store—to be a real-life demon). Dante’s interest in the conference decreases as his adventures in Latin America start.
The jury that awarded Conspiracy of the Romantics the Café Gijon Prize in 2008 cited ‘the daring premise, the brilliant use of literary culture while breaking traditional literary models’ and ‘the hilarious meta-literary game centered around the author.’ Siruela, the book’s publisher, writes ‘Only Carmen Boullosa could write such a novel, inventing her own genre. Part carnival, part essay, part intellectual, part pop-culture, part ghost story and part road-novel, this unique, funny, and thoughtful novel, at once simple and complex, confirms the author’s stature in the Hispanic literature.’
Recommended by Samantha Schnee