Reading Group Selection for August

“It’s a very strange book; let me admit that at the outset. It’s as primitive and uncanny as a folk tale, plain-spoken but infinitely complex…” – The Perfect Novel You’ve Never Heard Of, Slate Magazine by Jim Lewis

The Book Beat reading group selection for August is Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo. The Reading Group will meet on Wednesday, August 30th at 7pm in the Goldfish Tea Room (117 W 4th St #101, Royal Oak, MI 48067). Reading Group selections are discounted 15% at Book Beat. For more information, please call (248) 968-1190. All are welcome!

A masterpiece of the surreal, this stunning novel from Mexico depicts a man’s strange quest for his heritage. Beseeched by his dying mother to locate his father, Pedro Páramo, whom they fled from years ago, Juan Preciado sets out for Comala. Comala is a town alive with whispers and shadows—a place seemingly populated only by memory and hallucinations. Built on the tyranny of the Páramo family, its barren and broken-down streets echo the voices of tormented spirits sharing the secrets of the past.

First published to both critical and popular acclaim in 1955, Pedro Páramo represented a distinct break with earlier, largely “realist” novels from Latin America. Rulfo’s entrancing mixture of vivid sensory images, violent passions, and inexplicable sorcery—a style that has come to be known as “magical realism”—has exerted a profound influence on subsequent Latin American writers, from José Donoso and Carlos Fuentes to Mario Vargas Llosa and Gabriel Garcia Márquez.
“A strange, brooding novel. . . . Great immediacy, power, and beauty.” —The Washington Post

“A powerful fascination . . . vivid and haunting; the style is a triumph.” —New York Herald Tribune

“When Susan Sontag, in her foreword to this book, calls Pedro Páramo ‘one of the masterpieces of 20th-century world literature,’ she is not being hyperbolic. With its dense interweaving of time, its routine interaction of the living and the dead, its surreal sense of the everyday, and with simultaneous—and harmonious—coexistence of apparently incompatible realities, this brief novel by the Mexican writer Juan Rulfo strides through unexplored territory with a sure and determined step. . . . Having it now in all its depth and texture is a major event for which the publisher and the translator, Margaret Sayers Peden, deserve thanks.” —James Polk, New York Times Book Review

“No reader interested in the vitality of 20th century Latin American fiction can afford to miss this work.” —Rockwell Gray, Chicago Tribune

“As close to perfect as a piece of writing gets.” —Sheila Farr, Seattle Weekly

“A modern classic. . . . Peden’s lucid translation does justice to a tale that is firmly rooted in its own culture yet so fundamentally human in its focus that it speaks across cultural borders.” —Publishers Weekly

Juan Nepomuceno Carlos Pérez Rulfo Vizcaíno, best known as Juan Rulfo, was a Mexican writer, screenwriter and photographer. He is best known for two literary works, El Llano en llamas, a collection of short stories, and the 1955 novel Pedro Páramo. Because of the themes of his fiction, he is often seen as the last of the novelists of the Mexican Revolution. He had enormous impact on Latin American authors, including Gabriel García Márquez. Rulfo was an avowed follower of the American novelist William Faulkner.

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