Perhaps like Roberto Bolaño before him, Daniel Sada may well be on his way to achieving posthumous fame amongst English-language readers of literary fiction in translation. Almost Never, the first of the late Mexican writer's books to be translated into English, was awarded the prestigious Herralde Prize in 2008. Sada's work has attracted both critical and popular acclaim, culminating in his receiving Mexico's National Prize for Arts and Sciences mere hours before he passed away last November. While apparently not even his best work (or even all that indicative of his supposedly immense literary talents), Almost Never is a rollicking, entertaining, and unrestrained novel.
Sex-obsessed, sex-possessed, sex-frenzied, hypersexed Demetrio Sordo, Almost Never's young agronomist protagonist, is a salacious, libidinous character forever in pursuit of the old "in, out." Set throughout Mexico over a number of years in the late 1940s, Sada's rousing novel is replete with lively, colorful characters. Demetrio falls in love with two women: Mireya, a sassy, sensual prostitute; and Renata, a more proper, reserved young woman from a traditional family. Despite his unyielding prurience, Demetrio must decide for himself which of these women he can most likely build a future with. Almost Never may well feature one of the longest courtships to be found in modern fiction.
Sada's novel takes aim at Mexican machismo yet does so with voluptuous humor and ample playfulness. Almost Never offers an entertaining enough tale, but it is Sada's singular style that is the star of this story. Staccato phrasings, frisky language, abundant alliteration, witty asides, and an often jocular narration meld to form a most unique technique. Sada employs colons as liberally as the great Saramago did commas, and the effect relays a charming eagerness or alacrity on the part of the narrator.
With another nine novels to his name, including the apparently stunning masterpiece Because It Seems to Be a Lie, the Truth Is Never Known (Porque Parece Mentira La Verdad Nunca Se Sabe), as well as several collections of short stories and poems, it is likely that English-speaking readers will have many Sada translations to look forward to. With but a single work currently rendered from Spanish (and described as his most accessible, at that), it is hard to form a true conception of this heralded Mexican author. Given the consistent acclaim from the likes of Bolaño, Carlos Fuentes, and many others, however, as well as the prowess on display throughout Almost Never, it is of little wonder that Daniel Sada was regarded as one of the most important Spanish-language writers of his generation. Recommended By Jeremy G., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
This Rabelaisian tale of lust and longing in the drier precincts of postwar Mexico introduces one of Latin America's most admired writers to the English-speaking world.
Demetrio Sordo is an agronomist who passes his days in a dull but remunerative job at a ranch near Oaxaca. It is 1945, World War II has just ended, but those bloody events have had no impact on a country that is only on the cusp of industrializing. One day, more bored than usual, Demetrio visits a bordello in search of a libidinous solution to his malaise. There he begins an all-consuming and, all things considered, perfectly satisfying relationship with a prostitute named Mireya.
A letter from his mother interrupts Demetrio's debauched idyll: she asks him to return home to northern Mexico to accompany her to a wedding in a small town on the edge of the desert. Much to his mother's delight, he meets the beautiful and virginal Renata and quickly falls in love a most proper kind of love.
Back in Oaxaca, Demetrio is torn, the poor cad. Naturally he tries to maintain both relationships, continuing to frolic with Mireya and beginning a chaste correspondence with Renata. But Mireya has problems of her own boredom is not among them and concocts a story that she hopes will help her escape from the bordello and compel Demetrio to marry her. Almost Never is a brilliant send-up of Latin American machismo that also evokes a Mexico on the verge of dramatic change.
"A man is torn between lovers in the full-length English-language debut from the late Mexican novelist Sada (1953-2011). In 1945, agronomist Demetrio lives a simple, dull life in Oaxaca, renting a room from DoÃ±a Rolanda and supervising peasants in the orchards. In an attempt to spice things up, Demetrio goes to a bordello where he meets Mireya, a gorgeous prostitute with whom he's soon spending every spare moment, and Sada holds nothing back in describing their raucous couplings. The lovers are forced apart when Demetrio accompanies his infirm mother to a wedding in Sacramento, Calif., where he meets the equally beautiful Renata, Mireya's virginal inverse. Demetrio begins a chaste, long-distance courtship with Renata, but Mireya, sensing something amiss, begins urging Demetrio to rescue her from the bordello. When events come to a head, Demetrio must choose between love and lust, though neither object of his affection is exactly who she seems. Sada creates a fascinatingly eccentric cast of characters and manipulates them with skill." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Of my generation I most admire Daniel Sada, whose writing project seems to me the most daring." Roberto Bolaño
"Sada writes lustily and with comic brio about Demetrio's dilemma." Kirkus Reviews
"Daniel Sada's works were a polyphonic parade of voices, a Mexican cacophony: shouts, laughter, violence, lewd curses, sweet whispers, song. Sada is to Juan Rulfo what Beckett was to Joyce, only inverted. Beckett's minimalism was his response to Joyce's unsurpassable maximalism. Sada's maximalism was his response to Rulfo's unsurpassable minimalism. The amazing, sexy, gritty, relentless Almost Never, wonderfully translated by Katherine Silver, at last introduces English-language readers to the one contemporary Mexican writer regarded with reverence throughout the world." Francisco Goldman
"[Daniel Sada is] a writer who is profoundly close to the essence of man." Alvaro Mutis
"Daniel Sada stands far above other Latin American writers of his generation. I am always in awe of his highly rigorous technique, the unparalleled density and beauty of his prose, and his steel-solid aesthetic sensibility. Almost Never isa work of a literary genius." Jose Manuel Prieto, author of Rex
"Sada sends up the sexual mores of the rural bourgeoisie, tongue very much in cheek, but with compassion for both Demetrio's mama's-boy machismo and Renata's ambivalent puritanism....The humanist scope of the novel shines through just the right antidote to escape our own local solipsism." New Pages
About the Author
Daniel Sada was born in Mexicali, Mexico, in 1953, and died on November 18, 2011, in Mexico City. Considered by many as the boldest and most innovative writer in Spanish of his generation, he has published eight volumes of short stories, nine novels, and at least three volumes of poetry. His works have been translated into English, German, French, Dutch, Finnish, Bulgarian, and Portuguese. He has been awarded numerous prizes, including the Herralde Prize for his novel Almost Never. Just hours before he died, he was awarded Mexico's most prestigious literary award, the National Prize for Arts and Sciences for Literature.