When I discovered Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Paramo in 1985 I sensed a world I simply didn’t know. Since then I’ve been discovering one of the world’s richest civilizations, producer of one of our richest literatures. It’s been around the whole time; I never noticed. The conquistadors too never noticed. They came to Mexico in search of Eldorado, the City of Gold, but couldn’t find it. They didn’t know where to look. The true gold of Mexico was its culture, the true wealth of Mexico is its people.
For us in our search for the wealth of civilizations, looking towards Europe or to the East is easier; we’ve long been conditioned by and for such vistas. Looking toward Latin America is far more difficult. The images are stranger, the thinking less what we term rational. But, with a quarter of NAFTA’s population, Mexico is a large economic neighbor. And if we respect our neighbors enough to seek an exchange among equals, economically and culturally, we need to know them a great deal better. These conversations with Mexican writers will, perhaps, help.