Finalist for the 2014 Lambda Literary Award
Translated by Suzanne Jill Levine
Nine short stories open a door into working class Santurce, Puerto Rico, where shoddy medical offices, Catholic churches, Mormon temples, and Santeria storefronts line the sunbaked streets. Here, a bumbling prostitute-turned-fugitive bewilderingly avoids capture. Back-biting mothers hand down judgment on their neighbors and the world at large from their front lawns. A desperate dog-owner will do anything to have his precious animal sent to a taxidermist. A young Chosen One with a curious gift helps his fellow parishioners find God.
Mundo Cruel, Luis Negron's debut book, elegantly presents to its readers a world both tragic and outrageous. Masterfully satirical with a discrete solemnity at its core, Mundo Cruel's most remarkable element is its language. Several of its stories feature unnamed protagonists brought to life by their speech—colloquial, self-incriminating, and idiosyncratic—revealing Negron's mesmerizing talent for conjuring the spoken word in all its subtlety.
We sat down with writer and master translator Suzanne Jill Levine at the Seven Stories offices to discuss how she became a translator in the first place, her pioneering book The Subversive Scribe, literalism vs. essentialism in translation, and her work translating Seven Stories authors Guadalupe Nettel's forthcoming Bezoar and Other Unsettling Stories (2020) and Luis Negrón's brilliant, outrageous Mundo Cruel. A verité interview complete with phones ringing, doors closing, and some warm-up chatter in the beginning. Hope you enjoy!