(Salón de belleza)
Mario Bellatin’s complex dreamscape presents a timely allegorical portrait of the body and society in decay, victim to inscrutable pandemic.
In a large, unnamed city, a strange, highly infectious disease begins to spread, afflicting its victims with an excruciating descent toward death, particularly unsparing in its assault of those on society's margins. Spurned by their loved ones and denied treatment by hospitals, the sick are left to die on the streets until a beauty salon owner, whose previous caretaking experience extended only to the exotic fish tanks scattered among his workstations, opens his doors as a refuge. In the ramshackle Mortuary, victim to persecution and violence, he accompanies his male guests as they suffer through the lifeless anticipation of certain death, eventually leaving the wistful narrator in complete, ill-fated isolation.
“Mario Bellatin, who has the fortune or misfortune of being considered Mexican by the Mexicans and Peruvian by the Peruvians [is one of the] writers without whom there’s no understanding of this entelechy that we call new Latin American literature.”
“Like much of Mr. Bellatin’s work, Beauty Salon is pithy, allegorical, and profoundly disturbing, with a plot that evokes The Plague by Camus or Blindness by José Saramago.”
—Larry Rohter, the New York Times
“We were a group of children trying to write, and he threw his great book on the table. It changed everything in Mexico.”
"People often say, with a lot of truth to it, that all good fiction writing comes from some wound, out of some distance that needs to be breached between a writer and normalcy. In Mario’s sense, the wound is literal and comes with all kinds of psychological nuance and pain, and seems related to sexuality and desire, the desire for a whole body. One of my favorite aspects of him is this sense that he is writing for all the freaks — either literally freaks or privately and metaphorically, that he really touches us.”
• Spanish (Mexico, South America, and Spain): Penguin Random House
• English (World): Deep Vellum
• Danish (World): Skjødt Forlag
• Icelandic (World): Skriða bókaútgáfa
• Turkish (World): Notos kitap