Author(s): Carlos Fuentes
A choral novel on the hopes, disillusionments and betrayals of family life in Mexico. A rich Catholic rancher wants his four sons to become priests, while the boys themselves have other plans; a bereaved mother explains her daughter's life to the man who killed her; three daughters meet up around their father's coffin for the first time in ten years; a middle-aged couple meet by chance on a cruise-ship and wonder if they were once young lovers. The result is a picture of contemporary Mexico seen through a violently fragmented narrative, not unlike the internationally successful film Amores Perros.The stories are punctuated by a chorus, commenting as if in a Greek tragedy, crudely and unsentimentally on the underbelly of modern Mexican life, offering a raw but richly textured glimpse of the inequalities of that society - street children, junkies, dead rock icons, the ideal wife, a honeymoon gone wrong, a child suicide, a man faking his death and beginning a new life - that throw the middle-class dramas of the linked stories into harsh relief. Happy Families is a dramatic polyphony of the many conflicting strands of Latin America and the modern urban world.
Carlos Fuentes applies the lessons of Amores Perros in this brilliant, jump-cut work of fiction. The hardback edition received immense praise across the national press. In his 80th year, Carlos Fuentes is celebrated across the globe as 'A man of remarkable gifts' Spectator.
'The country's living national treasure ... These and other tales add up to a powerful indictment of the unhappiness caused by family life ... The stories overflow with the kind of insights that only maturity brings. They are also painfully topical ... Fuentes keeps his finger on modern Mexico's pulse' Angel Gurria-Quintana, Financial Times 'Fuentes, now 80, is still masterful in evoking the lives of damaged characters ... beautifully observed ... a book seething with timeless rancour' Independent 'There are moments of dry humour, intense beauty and startling emotion in his books, Happy Families included, distilled from an extraordinary and at times tragic life ... Happy Families is Fuentes's twisted lullaby.' Siobhan Murphy, Metro 'What makes this book doubly and triply beguiling, beyond the challenging storytelling and stylistics, is our feeling that Fuentes is trying, yet only implicitly and subtly, to probe deeper into this malaise ... This is an exacting literary journey. But there are, as always, magic and poetry in Fuentes' prose (not overlooking the very accomplished and natural translation of it by Edith Grossman) that make the journey worthwhile.' Andrew Staffell, The Times
Carlos Fuentes, Mexico's leading novelist, was born in 1928. He has been his country's ambassador to France and is the author of more than ten novels, including The Death of Artemio Cruz, Terra Nostra, The Old Gringo, The Years with Laura Diaz, Diana, the Goddess Who Hunts Alone and, most recently, The Eagle's Throne.Edith Grossman is perhaps the most noted translator of Spanish literature into English working today. She has translated many works of Mario Vargas Llosa, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and is responsible for the most celebrated modern English version of Cervantes' Don Quixote (2003).