Time Commences in Xibalb%C3%A1

Luis de Li%C3%B3n, trans. from the Spanish by Nathan C. Henne, afterword by Arturo Arias. . Univ. of Arizona, $22.95 (152p) ISBN 978-0-8165-2134-0
Lión's short but dense novel invokes indigenous myth and culture as they collide with the rapidly changing world. Dispensing with conventional narrative, Lión tells the story of a small rural village in Guatemala coming face to face with its own beliefs, history, and future, and wrestling with the stories villagers tell themselves about their place in the world. The book centers on Pascual, a man seen as "like the living devil" by his former villagers, returning to his onetime home. Within this claustrophobic world—hemmed in by Catholic doctrine on one side and ancestral Mayan mythology on the other—there is no clear cause-and-effect. Pascual, who nearly died at birth, was raised by his widowed mother to be vicious, stubborn, and ruthlessly defensive of his honor. His return, heralded by a quasi-mythical wind, fills his fellow villagers with dread and foreboding, but it also forces them to confront their own lives and reconsider the tales they tell. Henne's deliberate and elegant translation gracefully delivers this story of entrenched myth and encroaching modernity to English readers. The novel demands patience and attention, but rewards those with an interest in Latin American history and culture. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/19/2012
Release date: 11/01/2012
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