Literal Magazine has an interview with Carlos Funetes about Mexico and its directions for the future. Of late I have found him a better political commentator than a novelist and the interview, which mentions his newest book, makes that clear. The interview is in English and Spanish.
Rose Mary Salum: In 2010, Vlad was published. Why the vampire theme?
Carlos Fuentes: This was before the theme became fashionable. I used to watch vampire movies when I was a child. Bela Lugosi would give me a terrible fright whenever I saw him. So I said, Dracula the Vampire is always hanging out in Europe. When is he coming to America? Well, he came in to New Orleans in the Tom Cruise movie, but he’s never come to Mexico. Perhaps because he would be competing with too many local vampires… it’s terrible. But he finally came to Mexico and settled down there, under the name of Vlad.
RMS: As an editor and writer living in the United States, it concerns me that not enough books are being translated. In your opinion, what’s going on?
CF: What’s going on is that this country, the United States, has become very provincial. When I started out, my editors, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, were publishing Francois Mauriac, Alberto Moravia, and ten or fifteen foreign novelists. Now there’s no one. Those of us who have been established for a long time, like Gabriel García Márquez, Vargas Llosa, or myself, have kept on publishing, but almost out of condescendence. There is no interest in new writers, in the vast quantity and quality of writers we have in Hispanic Ameirca. This country has become very self- absorbed and preoccupied, and it still does not understand what is going on in the world. Barack Obama, who is a great president, is trying to tell Americans, “We are not alone, we are not the only ones,” but it is very hard for them to accept that the era of the United States is over.
RMS: And perhaps this has to do with deteriorating standards of education…
CF: They have deteriorated terribly; education is no longer the priority it once was. But above all, the issue is how the United States sees itself in relation to the rest of the world.