Praise for Mexico
"What an unsettling, thrilling experience it is being dropped into the middle of Barkan’s Mexico. It is fraught, surreal, off-kilter, and very funny. Violence is as apt to erupt from any moment of fragile peace as great beauty and human spirit are apt almost miraculously to persist, to blossom out of all the mayhem and apparent hopelessness. These stories are wholly immersive, bizarre and recognizable at the same time, vital in their own unrepeatable, artful sensibility."
-Paul Harding, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Tinkers
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"Mexico is a remarkable achievement. It is a portrait of a nation told from an astonishing range of characters, examining their daily lives in the wake of the violence created by the drug cartels. With great authority and compassion, Josh Barkan explores the human cost of this violence, looking at this world with an eye that is both uncompromising and tender. The stories are beautiful, funny, and terrifying; Barkan has created a collection that is utterly riveting and necessary. This is fiction of the highest order; read it now."
-Karen Bender, author of Refund (National Book Award Finalist, 2015)
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"Mexico is a poignant and original collection of stories. 'In Mexico everything’s about excess' the narrator explains and Josh Barkan proves this truth at every turn. He also reminds us that short stories, when beautifully written, are never short. "
-Jennifer Clement, author of Prayers for the Stolen (PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist, 2015)
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"Macabre, outrageously funny, touching, and irresistibly readable, the stories in this collection depict with boldness the complexity, and madness, of contemporary Mexican society. The ensemble of diverse voices narrating these tales is mind-blowing. We have here the work of an original, terrifying and spectacularly gifted storyteller."
-Jaime Manrique author of Cervantes Street
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" 'Do you think you can stomach such a story?' one woman asks another in Mexico, Josh Barkan's impressive new collection. He possesses the skill, nerve, and compassion to tell unforgettable stories from across the border, stories that are by turns violent, tender, heart-breaking, haunted, and surprising, rendered with such exacting care that readers will answer that question with a resounding Yes."
- Christopher Merrill, author of The Tree of the Doves: Ceremony, Expedition, War (Director of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa)
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"Mexico is a marvel. Josh Barkan has created a suite of stories that are beautiful and harrowing, wise and comic. His heroes, mostly American ex-pats who have headed South to reinvigorate their lives, are continually cast into danger, and forced to reckon with the darkness that lives around them, and within them. And yet, the wonder of these stories is their ability to guide us through this rough terrain without descending into cynicism. As readers, and humans, we are inspired by these tales to 'sing in some way of beauty, to raise the spirit of our voices in hope.' "
-Steve Almond, author of The Evil B.B. Chow and Other Stories and Candyfreak
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"Raw, strange, beautiful, the stories bring us into the heart of a very dangerous country, which is Mexico, and something else, which is ourselves."
-Peter Behrens, author of Carry Me (Winner of the 2006 Governor General’s Award, Canada)
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"Barkan's collection will thrill anyone curious about what goes on behind closed doors in contemporary Mexico. These tales mic the seductive voices of the marginal and lost. With a ventriloquist's skill, Barkan gets his speakers to lure you up surprising steps: toward sacrificial plateau where anyone might steal your heart, including the notorious drug lord El Chapo as well as your neighborhood soldier and corner prostitute. Barkan's prose is empathic and lucid in stories too fantastic to be anything but real."
-Edie Meidav, author of Kingdom of the Young and Lola, California