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One of BBC's "10 Books to Read in August" "an altogether fresh take on the coming-of-age story...Boullosa manages to merge humor with panic seamlessly." -- Publishers Weekly Starred Review "Carmen Boullosa is, in my opinion, a true master."--Alvaro Mutis Part bildungsroman, part ghost story, part revenge novel, Before tells the story of a woman who returns to the landscape of her childhood to overcome the fear that held her captive as a girl. This powerful exploration of the path to womanhood and lost innocence won Mexico's two most prestigious literary prizes. Carmen Boullosa, one of Mexico's leading writers, has published nearly twenty novels. Her most recent novel, Texas: The Great Theft, won the 2014 Typographical Era Translation Award and was shortlisted for the 2015 PEN Translation more

Product details

  • Paperback | 120 pages
  • 133 x 210 x 8mm | 157g
  • Deep Vellum Publishing
  • Texas, United States
  • English
  • Translation
  • 1941920284
  • 9781941920282
  • 670,843

Review quote

"This 1989 novel from one of Mexico's most prolific authors won the Xavier Villarutia Prize, the country's most prestigious literary award. In its first English translation, Before offers a perfect introduction to Boullosa's fluid and powerful writing... Beneath the events Boullosa presents in often comic terms -- playing childhood games with her half-sisters, visits to her grandmother, the shock of coming into womanhood at the time of her mother's death, her savage dreams -- is a powerfully rendered sense of loss and separation." -- BBC Culture's "10 Books to Read in August" by Jane Ciabattari "However spectral, this fictive double of the author produces a vividly expressionist argument that the transformations of adolescence amount to the literal death of the child. She also serves up a finely observed account of how a person--specifically, a high-strung, privileged, and impatient Catholic girl like the author herself--becomes a writer." -- Will Heinrich, BOMB Magazine "A ferociously intimate evisceration of her own formative personal history as well as an exploration of everything that is lost with childhood and of the places of silence that precede speaking." -- Aaron Bady, Guernica "Before is a small gem that brings to mind two other gems of Mexican literature: Juan Rulfo's Pedro Paramo and Carlos Fuentes's Aura. This comparison is not overstated. Like its predecessors, death is a central theme in Boullosa's novella. Before differs, however, in the playful, sometimes irreverent way in which the protagonist confronts this macabre topos." -- George Henson, World Literature Today "Boullosa's novel is playfully subversive rather than derivative, and converses with her precursors while forging a decidedly feminine?--?and feminist?--?path for the treatment of growing up (or failing at it)." -- Charlotte Whittle, Electric Literature "Part ghost story, part coming-of-age tale, Before is utterly haunting, mesmerizing and heartbreaking. This novel is an eerie and unforgettable masterpiece, an original take on the Central and South American tradition of magical realist literature." -- Ann Mayhew, The Riveter Magazine One of Bookriot's "7 Small Press Books to Read in August" 2016 One of Literary Hub's "13 Translated Books by Women You Should Read" "Told by an unnamed, extremely sensitive, and very frightened girl, this early novel by one of Mexico's premier writers rivals Clarice Lispector's work for sheer hypnotic power." -- Staff Pick at Politics & Prose Bookstore in Washington DC "Like Eimear McBride's A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, Carmen Boullosa's peculiarly spooky novella uses formal experimentation and an uncompromising emotional honesty to explore the formation of a young woman's identity. Only a writer as fearless as Boullosa could so perfectly capture the unease of youth with such Angela Carter-like weirdness." -- Garry Perry, Staff Pick at Foyle's Bookstore London "What strikes the heart in Before is the profound earnestness in which the narrator explores the memories that transform her life...Boullosa captures these sensations with a poet's heart and sensibility." -- Laura Farmer, The Cedar Rapids Gazette "Everything is in flux and in motion in Before, corresponding to the narrator's emotional and psychological state leading up to and including the twin traumas of losing her mother and achieving puberty." -- Rachel Cordasco, Bookishly Witty blog "spooky...Breathless, haunting..." Suzanne Fischer, Tiny Letter "Carmen Boullosa's early novel Before meets the everyday with bewilderment. In this dream world of childhood, realism is nothing short of an act of magic; the supernatural suffuses the ordinary." -- Anna Zalocostas, Music & Literature "A ghost story told by the ghost herself. It's Boullosa's first major novel--her first real novel--originally written in the 1980s when she was a well-known poet in Mexico City and was worried that she would be lost as a poet if she started in on prose... it's the first of the many strange masterpieces she's written in the three decades since. But while her later work tends towards baroque and postmodern explorations of strange new linguistic worlds--future utopias and lost historical archives--this first novel is raw and unadorned, like a vein opened up on the page." -- Aaron Bady, Literary Hub, Thirteen Books to Read in June "The return to childhood that Carmen Boullosa has given us feels unlike any other book that I have read. I can't say enough about Boullosa's incandescent writing, which glows from within, radiating possibilities, contradictions, ambiguities."--Terry Pitts, VERTIGOshow more

About Carmen Boullosa

Carmen Boullosa is one of Mexico's leading novelists, poets, and playwrights. She has published over a dozen novels, two of which were designated the Best Novel Published in Mexico by the prestigious magazine Reforma--her second novel, Before, also won the renowned Xavier Villarutia Prize for Best Mexican Novel; and her novel La otra mano de Lepanto was also selected as one of the Top 100 Novels Published in Spanish in the past 25 years. Her most recent novel, Texas: The Great Theft won the 2014 Typographical Era Translation Award, and was shortlisted for the 2015 PEN Translation Award. Boullosa has received numerous prizes and honors, including a Guggenheim fellowship. Also a poet, playwright, essayist, and cultural critic, Boullosa is a Distinguished Lecturer at City College of New York, and her books have been translated into Italian, Dutch, German, French, Portuguese, Chinese, and Russian. Peter Bush is an award-winning literary translator of Spanish, Catalan, French, and Portuguese from the UK. A former director of the British Centre for Literary Translation, Peter became a professor of Literary Translation at Middlesex University and later the University of East more