Juan Rulfo: The great Latin writer you may want to know about

Writer and photographer Juan Rulfo was born in the western state of Jalisco on 16 May 1917

Writers and critics say he was one of Latin America’s most influential writers, and yet Mexico’s Juan Rulfo is far from a household name in the English-speaking world, writes Irene Caselli.

“I think it is a tragedy,” Douglas J Weatherford, associate professor at Brigham Young University, Utah, told the BBC. “He is one of the great writers of the Americas.”

A series of international events have been organised this year to mark the 100th anniversary of his birth, and to reintroduce – or introduce – him to readers.

His first novel, Pedro Paramo, a 1955 tale of a man discovering a ghost town, is compulsory reading in schools around the Spanish-speaking world.

Thought of as one of the forerunners of the magical realism genre, it has also had plenty of high-profile fans.

US writer Susan Sontag called it “one of the masterpieces of 20th-Century world literature”, while Colombian Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez said that he could recite the book by heart and that it influenced his own masterpiece, One Hundred Years of Solitude.

García Márquez, who lived in Mexico for many years, also worked on a screenplay for The Golden Cockerel, Rulfo’s second novel, a book that has been released in English for the centenary.


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