23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023
Portrait Àlvaro Enrigue
© Raul Gonzalez

Àlvaro Enrigue

Álvaro Enrigue was born in Mexico in 1969. Having studied Communication at the Ibero-American University in Mexico City, he went on to take a Master’s degree in Latin American Literature at the University of Maryland.  He is currently working on his Ph.D., while also teaching translation and Creative Writing at the same time.  In addition, Enrigue has worked as part-time professor at the Ibero-American University in Mexico City, and he has acted as editor for various cultural journals. Since 1990 Enrigue has worked as a literary critic, writing for magazines both in Mexico and in Spain, such as ‘Letras Libres’, ‘Vuelta’, ‘Lateral’ and ‘Insula’. His first novel: ‘La muerte de un instalador’ (t: The Death of a Plumber) won the Joaquín Mortiz Award for a first novel in 1996.  Enrigue has also published a collection of short stories: ‘Virtudes capitales’ (1998; t: Capital Virtues) and the novel: ‘El cementerio de sillas'(2002; t: The Cemetery of Chairs) which, in 2003 was selected as the best novel by the Mexican literary magazine ‘Tempestad’.  Considered as one of a cast of rising young Mexican writers, Enrigue is especially recognised for his independent stance with regard to his contemporary Mexican writers under forty, many of whom banded together to form movements such as the ‘Crack’ and ‘Boomerang’ generations.  Although Enrigue went to university with one of ‘Crack’s’ founder members, Ignacio Padilla, he still prefers to work unconstricted by the boundaries of a collective doctrine or program.  Enrigue’s work has been described as post-modern, whereas it might be more accurate to declare that he develops ancient themes in a contemporary way that avoids a specific geographical setting.  ‘El cementerio de sillas’, for example, traces the family saga of a small group of ‘garamantes’ – mythological beings who originated in Africa and fought the Cyclops, up until the tribulations of their descendents in the New World. Employing various narrative techniques, such as the diary form, omniscience, and polyphony, the novel embraces myriad themes, ranging from African exodus to contemporary exile, and from individual salvation to the disintegration of ethnicity and identity.  Critics have described the novel as a biting satire that merges contemporary events with the remote: legend with history, tragedy with comedy.  Enrigue has written numerous articles on literature which were broadcast in various radio programmes in Mexico; he also gave live broadcasts on literature for both adults and children, and co-hosted, with two other critics, the live programme ‘La conjura de necios’, which dealt with literature and literary life.  Álvaro Enrigue currently lives in Washington, D.C.

© international literature festival berlin


La muerte de un instalador
J. Mortiz
Mexiko, 1996

Virtudes capitales
J. Mortiz
Mexiko, 1998

El cementerio de sillas
Ediciones Lengua de Trapo
Madrid, 2002

Editorial Anagrama
Barcelona 2006

Übersetzerin: Sabine Giersberg