The Arid Sky

The Arid Sky, by Emiliano Monge - 9781632061348.jpg
The Arid Sky, by Emiliano Monge - 9781632061348.jpg

The Arid Sky


By Emiliano Monge

Translated from the Spanish by Thomas Bunstead

Described as “a literary atomic bomb” (Luisán Gámez), Mexican literary star Emiliano Monge’s English-language debut is the Latin American incarnation of Cormac McCarthy: an artistically daring, gorgeously wrought, and eviscerating novel of biblical violence as told through the story of a man “who, though he did not know it, was the era in which he lived.”

Book Details

Paperback list price: $16.99 ISBN: 9781632061348 • Publication: 8/14/2018 • 5" x 7.125" • 224 Pages •  Fiction: Literary / Mexican • Territory: World English • eBook ISBN: 9781632061355

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About the Book

Set on a desolate, unnamed mesa, Emiliano Monge’s The Arid Sky distills the essence of a Latin America ruthlessly hollowed out by uncontainable violence. This is an unsparing yet magnificent land, whose only constants are loneliness, hatred, loyalty, and the struggle to return some small measure of meaning to life.

Thundering and inventive, The Arid Sky narrates the signature moments in the life of Germán Alcantara Carnero: a man who is both exaltedly, viscerally real and an ageless, nameless being capable of embodying entire eras, cultures, and conflicts. Monge’s roadmap—an escape across borders, the disappearance of a young girl, the confrontation between a father and his son, the birth of a sick child, and murder—takes readers on a journey to the core of humankind that posits a challenge of the kind only great literature can pose.



“Rarely can we witness literature like this.”                      

—Miguel Ángel Ángeles, Rolling Stone

“One of the most ambitious achievements in the last decade of Mexican literature."

—Jaime Mesa, Lado B

“A blood-soaked yet lyrical story of regrets, memories, and the faint possibility of redemption, set in a parched Mexican mesa. Monge's first novel to be translated into English will open one of Mexico's most talented young writers to a new audience... Monge's sentences reflect the meandering structure, dizzying the reader with complexity and beauty….this style reflects Monge's overall message about the morphing shape of memories and how they all combine to form a person….Monge's novel is a brutal gem of a book concerned with the burdens of the past.”

—Kirkus Reviews

“This dark, sprawling novel is the English language debut of Emiliano Monge, a Mexican writer who is often compared to the US literary superstar Cormac McCarthy. Written in a tone that evokes McCarthy’s unrelenting classic Blood Meridian, the novel tells the story of Germán Alcántara Carnero, a dangerous campesino fighting to survive in rural 20th century Mexico, and also a metaphor for the spiraling violence of contemporary Mexican society. The novel’s opening gambit: “This is the story of a man who, unbeknownst to him, was his century,” is without doubt one for the ages.”

—Stephen Woodman,

“A literary atomic bomb.”

—Luisán Gámez

“A complex yet magnificent book, solid and slippery at the same time, with poetry that blows one’s mind. A great novel.”

La Repubblica

“I don’t know how to tell you this but you must get your hands on this novel. Read it as if time didn’t matter, in a remote and solitary place, and do not dare to give your copy away as a gift. And finally, may it not be a surprise if it leaves you in unrest and reminds you of something ancient and afar.”

—Ricardo Baixeras, El Periódico

“It establishes a cadence of rare intensity and unexpected lyricism.”

-Rodrigo Pinto, Babelia / El País

“Monge’s novel stands out for the plasticity of its prose, the intelligence of its approach and its revision of stereotypes.”

—Patricio Pron, Letras Libres

“A Latin American novel in a very profound sense, where violence, solitude and war’s aridity refreshingly lurk over.”

—Roberto Valencia, Quimera

“A relentless novel that reconstructs almost a century of Mexican history with an obsessive and illuminating prose.”

—Matías Nespolo, El Mundo

“This books weighs down in importance just as much as it dazzles.”

—Marta Sanz, El Confidencial

“Emiliano Monge’s use of grim humour recalls that of works such as Bolaño’s 2666 and McCarthy’s The Crossing.”    

—Tom Bunstead, Times Literary Supplement

“A machine of stories that shows only what a novel can put in movement: the mutations and servitudes of an interior life.”

—Álvaro Enrigue, La Universal


About the Author

 © Oswaldo Ruiz

© Oswaldo Ruiz

Emiliano Monge (Mexico City, 1978) studied Political Science at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. His first short story collection, Arrastrar esa sombra, was published in 2008, followed by the novel Morirse de memoria; both were finalists for the Antonin Artaud award. With a wide array of non-fiction essays, reportage, and book reviews, he has been an ongoing contributor to the Spanish newspaper El País, the Mexican newspaper Reforma, and prestigious magazines such as Letras Libres and Gatopardo. He was the two-time recipient of the Conaculta award Fondo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, and is now a member of the “Orden del Finnegans”, a group of Spanish writers that gather annually on Bloomsday in Dublin in honor of Joyce’s Ulysses.


About the Translator

Thomas Bunstead

Thomas Bunstead's translations from the Spanish include work by Eduardo Halfon and Yuri Herrera, Aixa de la Cruz's story “True Milk” in Best of European Fiction, and the forthcoming A Brief History of Portable Literature by Enrique Vila-Matas (a co-translation with Anne McLean). A guest editor of a Words Without Borders feature on Mexico (March 2015), Thomas has also published his own writing in the Times Literary SupplementThe Independent, the Paris Review blog, 3ammagazine, Days of Roses, readysteadybook, and >kill author.