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A Carlos Fuentes boom on the anniversary of his death

May 15, 2013|By Hector Tobar
  • The American publisher of the late author Carlos Fuentes, photographed in 2006, is reissuing a number of his works as e-books.
The American publisher of the late author Carlos Fuentes, photographed… (For The Times )

The Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes is the subject of a small, literary boom on the anniversary of his death.

Fuentes died one year ago, May 15, 2012, at the age of 83. This week his North American publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, released more than a dozen of his works as e-books for the first time, including the epic and groundbreaking 1962 novel “The Death of Artemio Cruz.”

“The Death of Artemio Cruz” tells a sweeping story that’s at the heart of the birth of modern Mexico. Its protagonist is a general in the Mexican Revolution who becomes a leader in the exceedingly corrupt political party that dominated Mexico for most of the 20th century. Another of the books being released by FSG as an e-book, the 1985 novel “The Old Gringo,” was the first book by a Mexican author to make a U.S. bestseller list.

In Mexico, the publisher Siglo XXI announced this week that it would release a new book based on the letters between Fuentes and one of his first editors, Arnaldo Orfila (link in Spanish). Orfila worked at Siglo XXI and other Mexico City publishing houses and was himself a key figure in the Latin American literary boom of the 1960s and '70s.

Also this week the Mexico City newspaper Reforma published two letters Fuentes wrote when he was a teenager studying in Chile (link in Spanish).

In the first, the 14-year-old Fuentes writes to a friend in Mexico in 1943 to talk about his career goals: “With respect to my career, the doctor thing is a rubbish,” the young Fuentes writes. “Now I’m thinking of becoming a lawyer, but only as a last resort, since I’m thinking of dedicating myself completely to politics and the liberation of the proletariat.”

Sopitas reports that Fuentes left behind files with thousands of pages of documents. It also published the citation Fuentes received from his high school, the Colegio Frances, after winning a school literary prize in 1945 at age 17:

“Fuentes’ style, at times too precious and exaggerated, possess agility and subtlety capable of producing work of artistic value. His imagination is dazzling. The figures that his pen produces are varied and engaging.”

Less than a dozen years later Fuentes had completed his critically acclaimed first novel, another book now newly released this week as a e-book by FSG: "Where the Air Is Clear."

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hector.tobar@latimes.com

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