The Voices of the Master in Enrique Serna’s El seductor de la patria

  • Brian L. Price


Enrique Sema is one of Mexico’s most popular contemporary writers with seven novels, two short-story collections, and a handful of chronicles and essays to his credit. This popularity is due, in part, to his quick wit, sharp tongue, and low tolerance for hypocrisy. Indeed, everything he writes exhibits a sardonic, almost cruel, criticism of pretense, pomposity, and incompetence that is only attenuated by his use of humor, sense of timing and delivery, and painstaking characterization. Novels like Uno sonaba que era rey (1989), Senorita México (1993) and El miedo a los animales (1995) are populated with social marginalia that oftentimes inhabit sordid under-worlds, corrupt centers of power, and impoverished peripheries. There are no privileged spaces and no one is off-limits for Sema. And this is especially true of writers and the literary establishment. In his detective novel, El miedo a los animales, the narrator is a failed journalist who goes undercover to investigate the seedy world of law enforcement corruption and becomes the lackey for a police chief who dabbles in drugs, protection rackets, extortion, and the occasional murder. The assassination of a politi-cal journalist draws him back to his roots and he seeks to uncover the cul-prit only to discover that the poets and novelists whom he had previously admired are as corrupt, false, and decadent as the police. At the heart of Serna’s cultural criticism lies the conviction that failure is not an extraor-dinary condition generated by extreme moments of crisis, but rather a fact of everyday life in Mexico.


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© Brian L. Price 2012

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  • Brian L. Price

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