Juan Villoro – The Reef

Juan Villoro’s first work of fiction to be translated into English, The Guilty (2015), features seven short stories narrated by seven middle-aged men. The men are all very tired: jaded, often reduced by past or dormant addictions, or physically injured in ways both mundane and dramatic (a past-it journeyman footballer’s “body isn’t normal, it’s a kicked-in lump”, and he also gets blown up by a narco-terrorist bomb). Sexual desire and sexual insecurity burn continuously but with a dim flame, while women exist as if in some parallel dimension, only fleetingly and unintelligibly coinciding with the narrator’s own: “It was hard to get Karla to accept a table. All of them violated some aspect of feng shui”; “[Renata] looked at me . . . as if I were a landscape: interesting, but a little out of focus”.

In his novel The Reef (Arrecife, 2012), translated by Yvette Siegert, the…

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