By Mercedes Bermejo and Ana Mendoza
MADRID – Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes tends to reflect the realities of his country in his books, but never to the extent that he does in his latest novel, “Adan en Eden” (Adam in Eden), a journalistic report on drug trafficking and political corruption in Mexico to be published in November.
“It’s a novel-reportage, very journalistic,” that tells “how the country is being undermined by drug traffickers and by different kinds of corruption,” Fuentes said Monday in an interview with Efe, a few hours before receiving the Gonzalez-Ruano Journalism Prize awarded by the Mapfre Foundation.
One of the quintessential figures of Latin American letters, the writer won the award for his article “El Yucatan de Lara Zavala,” published in Mexico City’s daily Reforma on April 7, 2008, in which he ponders the relationship between history and the novel, because for the author of “La Muerte de Artemio Cruz” (The Death of Artemio Cruz), that connection is “inevitable.”
“There have been times without novels, but never a novel that does not somehow reflect the times. And dealing with the times is to deal with history,” said Carlos Fuentes, whose constant activity and the relaxed appearance he showed Monday make it hard to believe that he will soon turn 81.
Though the writer announced months ago that he had almost finished a novel about the Colombian guerrilla Carlos Pizarro, on Monday he surprised Efe with the imminent launch of “Adan en Eden,” a book of 160 pages to be presented in November in Santiago and afterwards at the Guadalajara (Mexico) Book Fair. Months later it will be published in Spain.
In “Adan en Eden” the novelist explores Mexico’s current realities “as in no other novel.” The narrator is “a powerful businessman” who, seeing the damage that drug trafficking is causing his country, “decides to beat drug traffickers and criminals at their own game, becoming an even bigger criminal than they are.”
“And how does he do it? You’ll see,” Fuentes said slyly. He seldom reveals the content of his books, but he did acknowledge his “great concern” at the unstoppable advance of drug cartels and crime in his country.
“Mexico is the new frontier of the drug trade. Colombia was for a long time, but then it came to my country, which is very convenient for drug traffickers because of its proximity to the United States,” Fuentes said, adding that “if there were no U.S. demand, there would be no Mexican supply.”
The author of “La Region Mas Transparente” (Where the Air is Clear) and “Terra Nostra” tends to back the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama, but does not believe that “even he,” a politician with good intentions, dares to decriminalize drugs in his country.”
“The ‘religious’ spirit of Americans would not allow it, because how are you going to legalize crime?” asked Fuentes, who on several occasions has shown his support for decriminalizing drugs worldwide.
At the same time the novelist, usually very critical of Felipe Calderon, was “excited” by the proposal made by the Mexican president on Sept. 1 in his speech opening the new Congress, given that it did not focus solely on combating drugs but also on the need to “improve education, expand the job market and end public and private monopolies in Mexico.”
The continent’s interest in literature has led the author of “La Voluntad y la Fortuna” (Will and Fortune) to write an essay on “La Novisima Novela Latinoamericana” (The Innovative Latin American Novel), which, he said, will be published in English in the United States.
Young Latin American writers “are saying that there is a new society that no longer corresponds to the old cliches and commonplaces,” the Cervantes Prize winner said, adding that, compared with “the search for identity” that characterized previous generations of authors, novelists today reflect “diversity.”
“And that’s a very big change,” the author said. EFE