Magazine article World Literature Today

Chiapas Maya Awakening: Contemporary Poems and Short Stories

Magazine article World Literature Today

Chiapas Maya Awakening: Contemporary Poems and Short Stories

Article excerpt

Chiapas Maya Awakening: Contemporary Poems and Short Stories. Ed. Sean S. Sell & Nicolás Huet Bautista. Trans. Sean S. Sell. Norman. University of Oklahoma Press. 2017. 185 pages.

In 1904 Frédéric Mistral was awarded the Nobel Prize for his efforts to revitalize the langue d'oc through his epic poem Mirèio. Now that the langue d'oc has been displaced by French, the work of Mistral withers in the stacks. Until recently, one predicted such doom for the indigenous languages of Mexico as well as their nascent poetry and fiction. Chiapas Maya Awakening, edited by Sean S. Sell and Nicolás Huet Bautista, with translations from Tsotsil and Tseltal, curate the best of poets like Manuel Bolom Pale and fiction writers like Alberto Gómez Pérez. The versions rendered by Sell are sensitive, as is his statement explaining choices he made when working with a language and beliefs alien to anglophone readers. These Maya writers prove that their work is of lasting quality and that their speakers will not forget their mother tongues.

The book opens with an introduction by Inés Hernández-Avila. Since the First Indigenous Congress of Chiapas took place in 1974, the region's literature has employed narrative techniques of Faulkner, Cortázar, and others, weaving interior monologues, flashbacks, and colloquial language. …

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