This morning I was referred to this Guardian Global Development post (let’s call it what it is). I can’t describe the sense of despair I feel when I read the caption “The best books on Mexico: Down the Rabbit Hole, The Years With Laura Díaz, and Mexico: Democracy Interrupted.” It’s not a joke. They are telling you, reader, that those three books are “the best on Mexico”.

Really. Now, allow me to be categorically ranty here: a bit of common sense can make us realise that “best of” lists are always a joke and cannot possibly be objective in any way. Nevertheless, this being the Guardian (read worldwide, and not only in Britain, for this is not still 1910) the old spectre of the subaltern (or the “Global South” subject) being unable to represent his/her own culture within the dominant (economic, cultural) power reappears.

A short autobiographical note: in the schools I worked in Mexico Mexicans had to have qualifications to get a teaching job, but Americans and Brits in gap years seemed not to need them. The rest of us natives had to climb the steps (mined with dead bodies) of the steep academic meritocracy ladder. (To be fair those were dark times –some 15, 20 years ago– and who knows if that is still the case). When I lived there, if you needed someone in Mexico to talk about British literature you looked for a Brit– because being British meant you knew something about your own culture. In Britain today, if you need someone to talk about Mexican literature… well, why would you need a Mexican to do that? Having been born in a “developing” nation means you are perceived as a toddler forever, unable to speak for yourself, inarticulate, ignorant and inexperienced. The grown-ups always know what’s best for you and therefore speak for you.

But I digress. As a quick Friday morning post, below my own “where to start” list of books about Mexico. I am assuming, like the Grauniad did, that you’d need books more or less widely available in English, so this is not a “best of”, and the list of books would be different if I could include books that are currently (sadly) only available in Spanish, Mexico’s official national language. I don’t have time to write small synopses for each book, but I have provided links. You know how to find out more.

Anyway, here it is, for your Christmas shopping list…

 The+Labyrinth+of+Solitude
Paperback, 398 pages
Grove Press
Original Title: El laberinto de la soledad / Posdata / Vuelta a El laberinto de la soledad
ISBN: 080215042X (ISBN13: 9780802150424)

La región más transparente

Where the Air is Clear, by Carlos Fuentes (1958)
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Farrar, Straus and Giroux Paperbacks
Original title: La región más transparente
ISBN: 9781466840164
ISBN10: 1466840161
384 pages

Massacre in Mexico- La noche de Tlatelolco
Massacre in Mexico, by Elena Poniatowska (1971)
Paperback, 333 pages
University of Missouri Press
Original title: La noche de Tlatelolco
ISBN 978-0-8262-0817-0
Mexican Postcards cover
Mexican Postcards, by Carlos Monsiváis (1997)
Paperback, 240 pages
Verso Books
ISBN-10: 0860916049
ISBN-13: 978-0860916048
news-from-empire-fernando-del-paso-paperback-cover-art
News from the Empire, by Fernando del Paso (1987)
Paperback / softback 880 pages
Original title: Noticias del imperio
ISBN-13: 9781564785336
GTIN13: 9781564785336
51ZXl5Fj7ML._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
The Book of Lamentations, by Rosario Castellanos (1962)
Paperback, 400 pages
Penguin Classics
Original title: Oficio de tinieblas
ISBN 9780141180038
No one will see me cry
No One Will See Me Cry, by Cristina Rivera Garza (2001)
Paperback, 207 pages
Curbstone Books
Original title: Nadie me verá llorar
ISBN-10: 1880684918
ISBN-13: 978-1880684917

Here is tijuana!

Here is Tijuana! by Fiamma Montezemolo, René Peralta,  Heriberto Yépez (2006)
Paperback, 192 pages
Black Dog Publishing Ltd
ISBN-10: 1904772455
ISBN-13: 978-1904772453

Slavery Inc
Trade Paperback, Royal PB, 320 pages
Portobello books
ISBN: 9781846274213
Narcoland_CMYK_300dpi
Hardback, 304 pages
ISBN: 9781781680735
ebook, 304 pages
ISBN: 9781781682487