Las batallas en el desierto

Las batallas en el desierto / Battles in the Desert & Other Stories

Novel , 1981


Pages: 80

This heartbreaking novella is a key work of 20th-century dystopian Mexican literature and sadly all too realistic today

This landmark novella—one of the central texts of Mexican literature, is eerily relevant to our current dark times—offers a child’s-eye view of a society beset by dictators, disease, and natural disasters, set in “the year of polio, foot-and- mouth disease, floods.” A middle-class boy grows up in a world of children aping adults (mock wars at recess pit Arabs against Jews), where a child’s left to ponder “how many evils and catastrophes we have yet to witness.” When Carlos laments the cruelty and corruption, the evils of a vicious class system, his older brother answers: “So what, we are living up to our ears in shit anyway under Miguel Alemán’s regime,” with “the face of El Señor Presidente everywhere: incessant, private abuse.” Sound familiar?

Woven into this coming-of-age saga is the terribly intense love Carlos cherishes for his friend’s young mother, which has the effect of driving the general cruelties further under the reader’s skin. 

"This coming-of-age story, originally published in 1981, explores the intensity of childhood passion even as it mourns the passing of a version of Mexico City subsumed by the tidal wave of consumer-based globalism. A fresh translation of this classic of 20th-century Mexican literature, ready for a new audience to savor."—Kirkus (starred review)