Monday, June 05, 2006

MALINCHE by Laura Esquivel

Maya Berry reviews MALINCHE by Laura Esquivel (Atria Books, 2006).

A new book by the author of Like Water for Chocolate!

Malinalli, later known as Malinche, believes that Hernan Cortes is the reincarnation of her god Quetzalcoatl. Naturally, she assists him in every way possible to make sure that he destroys the Aztecs to free slaves like her. Will Cortez fulfill Malinalli’s hopes and dreams?

Malinche is the story of the translator that assisted Hernan Cortes during his eventual conquest of Mexico. Although this is a work of fiction, Esquivel was inspired to write this book by the real-life Malinche and recent historical research that has shed new light about this historical figure.

I enjoyed this book’s beautiful, imaginative phrases but also felt that the storyline was rushed, leaving the characters largely undefined. Despite this reservation, I also enjoyed this book because it introduced me to an unfamiliar place and time in history. This book has inspired me to find out more about Malinche and the period of history which this book describes!

Maya Berry, Parkway Village Branch Library


Here's a link to a provocative interview of Laura Esquivel (emphasis is mine):

"For her role as Hernán Cortés’s interpreter and lover, La Malinche. . . is widely considered a traitor of the Mexican people. But this ambitious novel puts her in a dramatically different light."
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As Dinah Washington sang, "What a difference a day makes."

Or in some cases, what a difference a generation, or the passing of many years makes to the interpretation of history.

I enjoy books like Malinche that take a new look at the the past or reveal things about the past that are not remembered today. In the book I am currently reading, Judgment of Paris by Ross King, I have learned a lot about an artist named Ernest Meissonier who is not well-known today. However, during the mid to late nineteenth century, King argues that Messionier was one of the most famous painters in France while his contemporaries like Manet and Cezanne were derided for their seemingly sloppy artwork.

I took an art history course in college a few years ago and while Manet and Cezanne were extensively discussed in that class, Messionier was never mentioned.
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