If Mario Bellatin once said that he joined the Sufi Order without any kind of spiritual pretension, in Jacobo reloaded -a new version of Jacobo el mutante, published in 2004- he seems to have poured, indeed, the literary consequences of his devotion to this religious practice. By traversing the structure of this book, the viewer is immersed in something similar to a state of prayer as experienced by the narrator, who spent almost thirty hours in a cell accompanied by his tasbih -an object similar to a rosary, traditionally used by the followers of the Islamic religion-, invoking the ninety-nine names of God. The trigger is an image: a group of sheep grazing on a rocky outcrop. The result is a novel about a novel, in the form of an essay, about The Frontier, a supposedly unfinished and unpublished book by the Austrian writer Joseph Roth, to whose fragments the narrator has access, thanks to the intervention of two German publishers, Stroemfeld and Kieperheuer & Witsh. The reflection is permeated by Roth's own style, as passages are taken from the book, written in a state of inebriation. The protagonists of Roth's work take their place in the narrative. Jacobo Pliniak, a rabbi who teaches the sacred texts to the children of his community, suddenly undergoes a strange mutation. His wife, Julia, runs a tavern in the evenings, called The Frontier, which serves to help Jews escape the Russian pogroms. This is a book about storytelling -with illustrations by Hungarian artist Zsu Szkurka- in which Mario Bellatin leads us, once again, through universes filled with imagination, striking for their strangeness. The main theme, therefore, is the art of transformation. A book in which all those involved try to stop, if only for an instant, the inescapable passing of time. To leave the present as the present. At the same time, it is a suggestive text for its ideas about the Semitic character of the Jewish and Muslim religions, which makes them indivisible.
“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.”
“We were a group of children trying to write, and he threw his great book on the table. It changed everything in Mexico.”
• Spanish (Mexico and Spain): Sexto Piso
• Hungarian (World): Sonora