Mexican Detective Fiction

descargaDetective fiction in Mexico, compared to other countries like Argentina, Cuba or Chile, emerged relatively late. From 1946 to 1961, Selecciones Policiacas y de Misterio offered its readers stories by the most prominent authors of the genre, through its association with the famous Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, thus creating a space for Mexican writers such as: Antonio Helú (1900 – 1972); Rodolfo Usigli (1905 – 1979); the Barcelona journalist, writer and art critic, exiled in Mexico since 1939 Enrique F. Gual (1907 – 1973); Rafael Bernal (1915 – 1972); and María Elvira Bermúdez (1916 – 1988).

Antonio Helú founded and edited the magazine Selecciones Policiacas y de Misterio (1946-1957) to encourage the diffusion of detective fiction in Mexico, and the publishing house Albatros, where he published well-known European, North American and Hispanic American authors. His novel La obligación de asesinar was published in 1957.

Rodolfo Usigli’s Ensayo de un crimen (1944) is usually considered the founding novel of the genre in Mexico. It was adapted to the cinema by Luis Buñuel in 1955, under the title of Ensayo de un Crimen or La vida criminal de Archibaldo de la Cruz (English title: The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz)

Enrique F. Gual published El crimen de la obsidiana (1942); El caso de los Leventherys (1944); Asesinato en la plaza (1945); and La muerte sabe de modas (1945).

Rafael Bernal, by many the first writer to follow in Mexico the detective fiction tradition, published several stories, short novels and three long works: Un muerto en la tumba (Jus, 1946); Su nombre era muerte (Jus, 1947) and probably his best novel El complot mongol (Joaquín Mortiz, 1969). His short novels (“El extraño caso de Aloysius Hands”, “De muerte natural”, and “El heroico don Serafín”) were collected in a book titled 3 novelas policíacas (Jus, 1946).

I’m reading at present Rafael Bernal’s Antología policiaca (Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2015) containing: “El extraño caso de Aloysius Hands”, “De muerte natural”, “El heroico don Serafín” (1946) , “Un muerto en la tumba” (1988), “La muerte poética” (1947), “La muerte madrugadora” (1948) y “La declaración” (1967). Stay tuned.

María Elvira Bermúdez, one of the first storytellers and theorists of detective fiction in Mexico, published a full-length novel Diferentes razones tiene la muerte in 1953.

(Source: Enciclopedia de la Literatura en México)

Please note this is a work in progress. I’ll appreciate any comments on possible errors and/or omissions.

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