Reading List: Mexico

The World Today Published 1 April 2015 Updated 7 December 2018 1 minute READ

El Narco – Inside Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency Ioan Grillo (Bloomsbury,£8.99)

Among the many books about Mexico’s drug cartels, this is a fast-paced page-turner that manages to be comprehensive on the causes of the problem, chilling on its effects and compelling on the larger-than-life personalities involved.

Nothing, Nobody, the Voices of the Mexico City Earthquake Elena Poniatowska (Temple University Press, £22.99)

A gripping collage of first-hand accounts of the ‘Big One’ – the 1985 Mexico City earthquake. The harrowing descriptions of devastation, the government’s slow reaction, and the collective rescue efforts are as graphic as the book’s black-and-white photos of collapsed buildings, twisted metal and grief.

The Beast: Riding the Rails and Dodging Narcos on the Migrant Trail Oscar Martínez (Verso, £14.99)

How desperate do you have to be before clinging to the roof of a freight train and defying drug gangs, robbery, rape and death look a better option than staying in Central America or Mexico? Salvadoran journalist Oscar Martínez’s courageous and empathetic descriptions from his eight trips riding The Beast through Mexico with undocumented migrants are an eye-opening and urgent read

Signs Preceding the End of the World Yuri Herrera (And Other Stories. £8.99)

The US border looms large in Mexico and its shadow, and the experience of crossing it, is skilfully explored in this tale of a woman’s search for her brother. Herrera, hailed as one of Mexico’s greats of the genre, mines rich metaphors to construct this multi-layered odyssey.

Prayers for the Stolen Jennifer Clement (Hogarth, £12.99)

Clement portrays the fate of being a female in Guerrero, a wild west badland state in the headlines for the abduction of 43 students last year. Women hide to escape drug lords or risk being stolen in a novel rooted firmly in very uncomfortable fact.

The Labyrinth of Solitude Octavio Paz (Penguin Classics, £14.99)

The classic exploration of the essence of Mexicanness by one of the country’s most revered intellectuals; his descriptions of the national psyche are as sharp as they were when the collection of essays was first published in 1950.

Mongrels, Bastards, Orphans and Vagabonds: Mexican Immigration and the Future of Race in America Gregory Rodríguez (Vintage, $11)

Mexican-American race relations viewed through the prism of Mexico’s own colonial melting pot. The book contains an engaging and well-documented history of how the Spanish conquest created and defined a new racial identity and is thought-provoking on how that legacy is playing out in the United States today.

WT0215ReadingList (PDF, 0.82MB)