Is There Life on Earth?
¿Hay vida en la tierra?
This book contains one hundred stories as diverse as they are overwhelming, told in acompelling prose. Juan Villoro analyses the strange mystery of being Mexican, including the impact of technology on their relationships, develops a theory of the Mariachi, witnesses a confession from the Japanese writer Kenzaburo Oé, meets two tortoises at Dachau concentration camp, opens a suitcase that contains the pain of the Spanish Republican exile, takes on the huge challenge of ordering a cappuccino and designs an episode of The Simpsons that takes place in Mexico´s Distrito Federal. A hilarious catalogue of the paranoias, misunderstandings, annoyances and dreams that make up daily life, ¿Hay vida en la Tierra? becomes a singular portrait of our age. The sharp aphorisms in this book could come from Nietzsche, a fortune cookie, a Kung-Fu guru, a lost taxi driver, a seven-year-old girl or a depressed hairdresser. An essential guide to understanding how the present becomes tradition, ¿Hay vida en la Tierra? reveals secrets like how to maintain friendships, arrive at a destination with just the right delay and convey a farewell like an epic poem. Villoro, in a first-class literary exhibition, manages to give the confusion of daily life a sense of order through narrative.
«A vision that is compelling and precise; it never ceases and is tireless» (Francisco Magaña, Letras Libres).
«An observer of reality. Small stories that try to tie individual destiny with an outside world that is in constant flux».(Yanet Aguilar Sosa, El Universal).
«Juan Villoro´s one hundred ironic texts move between reportage, fiction and reality» (Ricardo Baixeras, El Periódico de Catalunya).
«Ironic nostalgia for lost innocence, a critique of obsolete social atavisms with a discursive tone of colloquial essay, hilarious tales of extravagant stories and a dissimulated sarcasm that brings to mind the stories of the great Cortázar» (Jesús Ferrer, La Razón).
«Despite being made up of independent pieces, the texts simulate a cohesion by repeating characters or references underneath the unique perspective of this brilliant Mexican writer … A prose as unforgettable as the dozens of characters that it describes; demonstrating the abilities that makes this such an unforgettable and original writer » (Arturo García Ramos, ABC Cultural).
«Like other close observers of reality, Millás for example, who transform anecdote into pure literature, Villoro studies the habits and customs of daily life and decants them in pages that are joyous or ironic, or a mixture of both. Every story describes a piece of the elusive jigsaw of contemporary life» (Íñigo Urrutia, El Diario Vasco).
«Villoro is one of the most important and exportable writers in Mexico. An ironic genius who here applies his talents to that peculiar genre which Juan José Milláscalls the ‘anti-story’ (…) A happy prose, which is extremely agile andsparkling and which seems (seems) simple and urgent (…) Portrayed with a refreshing and tender sarcasm, Mexico appears hard, unpunctual, greedy and ranchero: “this country lacks three things: security, social justice and strikers”» (Nadal Suau, El Cultural).
Juan Villoro born in Mexico City in 1956, he worked as cultural attaché at the Mexican embassy in the then Democratic Republic of Germany as well as contributing to numerous magazines and newspapers. He was also managing editor of the magazine Pauta and manager of La Jornada Semanal, the cultural supplement of the newspaper La Jornada, from 1995 to 1998. He is currently a professor of literature at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) and a visiting professor at Princeton, Yale, Boston and the Pompeu i Fabra de Barcelona. He regulalry contributes to the newspapers La Jornada (Mexico), El País (Spain) and El Periódico (Spain), and in publications like Letras Libres, Proceso, Nexos, Reforma and the Italian Internazionale. He has been awarded various prizes for his work as a writer, essayist, author of children’s books and translator of major works from German and English. Juan Villoro is increasingly regarded as one of the most important Latin American writers working today.