El Llano in flames
Juan Rulfo, translated by Stephen Beechinor
January 2020: Long-listed for the Republic of Consciousness Prize
‘Juan Rulfo didn’t write more than three hundred pages, but they are almost as many and, I believe, as durable as those we’re acquainted with from Sophocles.’ — Gabriel García Márquez
‘You can read Rulfo’s slight but dense body of work in a couple of days, but that represents only a first step into territories that are yet to be definitively mapped. Their exploration is one of the more remarkable journeys in literature.’ — The Guardian
‘[Translator Stephen Beechinor] has taken to heart the landscape and mood of the collection: a realm of narrow choices, stark, arid land and crushing poverty. The parallels with Mexico and other countries today are unavoidable, while Rulfo’s language still speaks powerfully out of his own experience.’ — Republic of Consciousness Prize
When asked by an admirer, ‘What do you feel when you write?’, author Juan Rulfo is said to have replied, ‘Remorse’.
Remorse is not always a given in El Llano in flames, where lines are crossed and circumstances rarely forgive. This is rural Mexico after the Revolution: there is danger, upheaval and not much in the way of material improvement. Soldiers are repaid for their service with plots in the desert. A young girl loses her dowry cow in a flood. A peasant militiaman goes on the rampage.
These stories – now classics of Latin American literature – have the spare, unadorned quality of oral testimony as told by the wicked, the unworldly, the chancers, the murderous and the sorry. There is beauty here, but it is the raw, unnerving beauty of the truth.
This new translation by Stephen Beechinor brings Juan Rulfo’s remarkable stories to English-language readers beyond North America for the first time since the stories were first published in Spanish in 1953. Also includes a new foreword by Dylan Brennan.
Format 216 pp paperback
Published 21 October 2019