Bruno Estañol. Bruno Estañol: The Collected Fiction. Translation from the Spanish and preface by Eduardo Jiménez. ISBN 978-0-915745-84-5. $25.95.

The narratives collected in this volume are mainly set in the State of Tabasco, during the turbulent time period running from the Mexican Revolution to the late 1950’s. In one sense we’re dealing with a dreamy, genteel, picturesque—though somewhat atavistic—world, in which the paddlewheel steamboat remains the preferred means of long-distance transportation, in which the townswomen wear ruffled organdy or tulle dresses while daintily promenading, parasols in hand, around the town square; where couples, young and old, dance on Sunday afternoons to the elegant melodies of pasodobles, danzones, tangos or boleros; and where the finest merchandise, ranging from the mundane to the exotic, arrives daily to the various commercial ports along the Tabascan coast, having been shipped there from the metropolises of New Orleans and Havana. On the other hand, it may also be a horrific, hostile and harsh world, where fierce tropical storms arise without warning, claiming the lives and fortunes of unsuspecting townspeople; where the jungle and the wild creatures within it habitually menace the fragile and vulnerable human civilizations erected in their midst; where frontier-style administration of law and order continuously makes a mockery of justice; and where the more talented and gifted individuals often find themselves molested or marginalized, trapped in a life of boredom, monotony, indolence and ennui. Occasionally, the author takes us to places outside the realm of tropical Mexico, staging some of his stories in New England, Germany, England, India, Palestine and Paris; yet he always remains faithful to his penchant for exposing both the beautiful and the sinister sides of humanity, while concurrently manifesting a keen sense of humor.

Estañol’s skeptical, ironical and slightly philosophical brand of humor resonates with the work of such fellow Latin American writers as Juan José Arreola, Jorge Luis Borges, and Ernesto Sábato. Bruno Estañol (Frontera, 1945) was trained in medicine and neurology at the National University of Mexico and at Johns Hopkins Medical School. He began publishing fiction in 1989 and has consistently received enthusiastic reviews in some of Mexico City’s finest newspapers, including La Jornada and La Crónica de Hoy. Estañol is the recipient of the José Fuentes Mares National Prize for Literature and the San Luis Potosí National Prize for Short Stories. The State of Tabasco recently awarded him The Silver Juchimán, its highest honor for outstanding accomplishments in literature and the arts. Any responsible critical assessment of Mexican literary production at the turn of the last century and the dawn of the new millennium will necessarily hold a high place for Bruno Estañol, whose rare blend of authentic regionalism and cultivated universality set him apart from the crowd.

Eduardo Jiménez (Boston, 1976) is a graduate of Harvard College, and holds a doctorate in Spanish philology from St. Paul University in Madrid. He is currently Adjunct Professor of Modern Languages and Interdisciplinary Studies at The University of Texas at San Antonio.




Ensayo: “Escribir desde la hoguera”. Eduardo Jiménez Mayo

01:37 By Santiago Daydi-Tolson

A Bruno Estañol y a mí nos separa una laguna de años, o quizá no tantos (ni él es tan viejo ni yo soy tan joven), pero no somos para nada de la misma generación. Además no somos de la misma nacionalidad. Para colmo, cuando lo conocí hace unos veinte años yo apenas entendía y hablaba el español. Sin embargo nunca vi ninguna inconveniencia al aproximarme a él y según mis recuerdos nos hicimos amigos sin esforzarnos en demasía. 

Su inglés era nítido en cuanto a la forma y ligeramente británico en cuanto al acento, y dominaba vocablos que hasta para mí eran desconocidos. También me di cuenta que manejaba con destreza mucho del vocabulario callejero y grosero de los varios sectores de la sociedad norteamericana, y hasta me contaba unos chistes negros de la misma procedencia. Más tarde aprendí que su relativamente larga estancia como neurólogo en los hospitales de élites y de pobres en Washington, Philadelphia y Baltimore, más sus largas noches de inmersión en los clásicos de las letras inglesas, dejaron una impronta indeleble en la pluma de este monstruo creativo.

Su cuento “Visita a la tumba de Edgar Allan Poe”, con su alusión a la patriótica “Canción mixteca”, seguramente se inspiró en esa época; aunque no tanto, pues su narrador se quedó para siempre en los EE.UU., mientras que Bruno regresó a México, si no al propio Tabasco. Me ha dicho varias veces  que si no hubiese vuelto a México jamás se habría convertido en escritor de ficción. Supongo que con esto quiere decir que se hubiera dedicado a ganar mucha plata como médico y a descuidar el español hasta el punto de decir, como el narrador de “Visita a la tumba de Edgar Allan Poe”, moverse en lugar de mudarse . . .

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Estañol, Bruno. Euler's Conjecture=La Conjetura de Euler. Translated by Dr. Eduardo Jiménez Mayo. ISBN: 978-1480093898 $24.95

This is a publication of Floricanto Press. In the spring of 2009, New York University's journal of creative writing, Washington Square Review, published a selection from Euler's Conjecture to much critical acclaim, featuring it at the issue's launching party. This novel constitutes an apocryphal diary of the French Enlightenment philosopher Denis Diderot, tracing his reflections from the time of his imprisonment at Vincennes to his legendary confrontation with the Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler at the court of Catherine the Great.