2020 Longlist

The Arid Sky


Translated from the Spanish by Thomas Bunstead

2020 Longlist

Set on a desolate, unnamed mesa, Emiliano Monge’s The Arid Sky distils the essence of a Latin America ruthlessly hollowed out by uncontainable violence. This is an unsparing yet magnificent land, whose only constants are loneliness, hatred, loyalty, and the struggle to return some small measure of meaning to life.

The Arid Sky narrates the signature moments in the life of Germán Alcántara Carnero: a man who is both exaltedly, viscerally real and an ageless, nameless being capable of embodying entire eras, cultures, and conflicts. Monge’s roadmap, an escape across borders, the disappearance of a young girl, the confrontation between a father and his son, the birth of a sick child, and murder, takes readers on a journey to the core of humankind.

About the Author

Emiliano Monge is a Mexican writer of short stories and novels. He published his first short story collection Arrastrar esa sombre in 2008 followed by the novel Morirse de memoria, both were finalists for the Antonin Artaud award. He was the two-time recipient of the Conaculta award Fondo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes.

Librarian’s Comments

This novel is testimony of a time in which Mexican society gradually recognises its most appalling vices in order to fight them. In contrast with the romantic nationalism of most of the twentieth century, this novel reflects the point of view of a generation that has witnessed decades of normalised and institutionalised machismo, violence, corruption and impunity.  Although this novel draws upon Mexico, it touches universal themes, for example, the dangerous combination of unrestrained power and a tendency to self-justification.

The story of the central character, Germán Alcántara Carnero, is used in various points as an allegory of Mexican society. Unlike romanticised depictions of Mexican virtues, the story of Alcántara Carnero uses violent images to denounce the predation and corruption that have plagued Mexico in different points of its history.

The novel was awarded the XXVII *Premio Jaén de Novela” and the V “Premio Oltras voces, otros ámbitos”. Emiliano Monge was recognised in 2011 as the one of the 25 most important writers in Latin America. In 2015 he was deemed one of the most important Mexican writers under 40 by the British Council.  Biblioteca Daniel Cosío Villegas, Mexico




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