IN his latest novel, Carlos Fuentes flashes forward — using literary conventions of the 18th century — to construct an epistolary novel that chronicles a tumultuous Mexican future. In the 2020s, the U.S. government, headed by President Condoleezza Rice, orchestrates an embargo against Mexico that cuts off the country's access to satellites and every other form of communication technology. In the absence of telephones and the Internet, the characters of Fuentes' novel vie for the Mexican presidency, recording their affairs and political maneuverings with ink and paper and relying on hand deliveries as their only means of transmission.
The initial impression, and the one the jacket copy wants the reader to believe, is that this is a political novel. Fuentes' conceit isolates Mexico from the rest of the world and focuses on the presidential palace and the contest for the Eagle's Throne, which is what the presidential seat is called. Fuentes is primed to wax prophetic about the approaching political dystopia, critique Mexico's political corruption and lament Latin America's dependency on the United States.
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