“Of my generation I most admire Daniel Sada, whose writing project seems to me the most daring.” —Roberto Bolaño
This Rabelaisian tale of lust and longing in the drier precincts of postwar Mexico introduces one of Latin America’s most admired writers to the English-speaking world.
Demetrio Sordo is an agronomist who passes his days in a dull but remunerative job at a ranch near Oaxaca. It is 1945, World War II has just ended, but those bloody events have had no impact on a country that is only on the cusp of industrializing. One day, more bored than usual, Demetrio visits a bordello in search of a libidinous solution to his malaise. There he begins an all-consuming and, all things considered, perfectly satisfying relationship with a prostitute named Mireya.
A letter from his mother interrupts Demetrio’s debauched idyll: she asks him to return home to northern Mexico to accompany her to a wedding in a small town on the edge of the desert. Much to his mother’s delight, he meets the beautiful and virginal Renata and quickly falls in love—a most proper kind of love.
Back in Oaxaca, Demetrio is torn, the poor cad. Naturally he tries to maintain both relationships, continuing to frolic with Mireya and beginning a chaste correspondence with Renata. But Mireya has problems of her own—boredom is not among them—and concocts a story that she hopes will help her escape from the bordello and compel Demetrio to marry her. Almost Never is a brilliant send-up of Latin American machismo that also evokes a Mexico on the verge of dramatic change.
A man is torn between lovers in the full-length English-language debut from the late Mexican novelist Sada (1953–2011). In 1945, agronomist Demetrio lives a simple, dull life in Oaxaca, renting a room from Doña Rolanda and supervising peasants in the orchards. In an attempt to spice things up, Demetrio goes to a bordello where he meets Mireya, a gorgeous prostitute with whom he’s soon spending every spare moment, and Sada holds nothing back in describing their raucous couplings. The lovers are forced apart when Demetrio accompanies his infirm mother to a wedding in Sacramento, Calif., where he meets the equally beautiful Renata, Mireya’s virginal inverse. Demetrio begins a chaste, long-distance courtship with Renata, but Mireya, sensing something amiss, begins urging Demetrio to rescue her from the bordello. When events come to a head, Demetrio must choose between love and lust, though neither object of his affection is exactly who she seems. Sada creates a fascinatingly eccentric cast of characters and manipulates them with skill. (Apr. 10)
Poor Demetrio Sordo. In his native Oaxaca, he falls for the prostitute Mireya; in Coahuila (where the author studied in his youth), he becomes enamored of the puritanical Renata. When Mireya confesses that she's pregnant, Demetrio ditches her on a train ride. He ends up overseeing a string of ranches while engaging in an extended courtship of the chaste Renata, who continues to rebuff Demetrio's timid amorous advances. As a foil to their courting is the humorous, short-lived affair of his aunt Zulema with her first cousin Abelardo. The only suspense created in this otherwise predictable novel is whether Demetrio will marry Renata (he does, though the reader may question why) and whether Mireya finds her way back to him (she doesn't, though the reader may root for her to return). VERDICT This is Sada's first novel to be translated into English; he died in November 2011. Though not his best or most characteristic work—the characters are one-dimensional symbols and as a setting post-World War Mexico lacks conviction—it provides an entertaining, lusty romp that may spur translations of the remainder of his award-wining novels, poetry, and short stories.—Lawrence Olszewski, OCLC Lib., Dublin, OH
Sada starts his novel with the word "Sex" and ends it with "Sheer relief," and in between we find almost every variation on the theme. Demetrio Sordo is an agronomist in Mexico in 1945, and he has an unbridled need to unleash his prodigious sexual appetite, especially when it comes to Mireya, a gorgeous prostitute with whom he falls half in love--and fully in lust. Because his job is rather boring, he finds he's energized only when he's visiting Mireya at the brothel. She fulfills his every sexual desire, and at first these consummations seem to provide Demetrio with a provisional, albeit carnal, happiness. But Demetrio's sexual idyll is interrupted when he attends a wedding in northern Mexico and meets a very different kind of woman, the virginal Renata, who's closely watched by her mother. Demetrio falls in love with Renata but finds his courtship abruptly truncated when he kisses (or "licks") her hand, a sign of disrespect according to Renata's madre. Then begins Demetrio's dance between purity and desire, for while he wants Renata, he also wallows in sensuality with Mireya. When he finally makes up with Renata's mother, she sets the date of the wedding a year away, primarily to make Demetrio suffer so that he will appreciate the special quality--let's call it primness--of her daughter. The novel culminates with the long-delayed consummation of Demetrio's wedding and honeymoon. Sada writes lustily and with comic brio about Demetrio's dilemma--but this is definitely not a book for the kiddies.
Daniel Sada was born in Mexicali, Mexico, in 1953, and died on November 18, 2011, in Mexico City. Considered by many as the boldest and most innovative writer in Spanish of his generation, he has published eight volumes of short stories, nine novels, and at least three volumes of poetry. His works have been translated into English, German, French, Dutch, Finnish, Bulgarian, and Portuguese. He has been awarded numerous prizes, including the Herralde Prize for his novel Almost Never. Just hours before he died, he was awarded Mexico's most prestigious literary award, the National Prize for Arts and Sciences for Literature.