Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Malinche by Laura Esquivel

Some writers learn early in their careers to find a niche, then it’s up to readers to decide if they will embrace it. Such is the case with Laura Esquivel.

She set the tone for a highly respected career in the early 1990s with her first book, “Like Water for Chocolate,” detailing a young girl’s expression of passion through cooking.

That novel sold more than 4.5 million copies worldwide, was made into a movie and earned an award from the American Booksellers Association.

Above all, “Chocolate” displayed Esquivel’s knowledge and familiarity with her native Mexico and established her comfort level with magical realism. Her new book, “Malinche,” doesn’t stray from either of those expressions.

“Malinche” is a historical novel about Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortes and his translator. The story is a lyrical interpretation of their relationship during Cortes’ destruction of Montezuma’s 16th-century Mexicas empire.

Mallinalli, also called Malinche in the book, is sold into slavery as a child and later becomes Cortes’ interpreter. Cortes and Mallinalli share an intimate relationship that leads to the birth of a child and lends itself to vibrantly written scenes by Esquivel.

You can find the review here

Displaying ambition bordering on recklessness, Laura Esquivel (``Like Water for Chocolate") revisits a tale infamous in her native Mexico but little known north of the border, the story of the slave woman who accompanied Cortés as his concubine and interpreter on his bloody march of conquest across Montezuma's kingdom.

In ``Malinche," Esquivel puts imaginative flesh on the bones of legend. Her Malinalli is not a traitor but an Edenic innocent, an artist and a mystic who believes that the Spaniard Cortés is the reincarnation of the god Quetzalc ó atl, come to rescue her people from their Aztec oppressors.

You can find the review here

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