By Mario Bellatin
Translated from the Spanish by poet and translator David Shook
Mario Bellatin’s earth-shattering allegory of plague that brought him to his cult status as auteur of Latin America's most singular literary vision, in a brand-new translation by poet and translator Shook.
Publication Date: October 19, 2021
Mario Bellatin’s complex dreamscape, offered here in a brand-new translation, 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.
"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 Jose Saramago."—New York Times
“What [the narrator] has given to [his patients], and Bellatin to us, is a model for dying, and for living; for treating the abject body with honesty and respect, despite its difference and decay—perhaps because of it.”—Maggie Riggs, Words Without Borders
"Including a few details that may linger uncomfortably with the reader for a long time, this is contemporary naturalism as disturbing as it gets."–Booklist
"An unflinching allegory on death."—Publishers Weekly
"When this disquieting novella appeared, Mexican (and even Latin American) literature changed." —Francisco Goldman
Mexican writer Mario Bellatin has published dozens of novels with major and minor publishing houses throughout Latin America, Europe, and the United States, including Shiki Nagaoka: A Nose for Fiction and Jacob the Mutant, both from Phoneme Media. A practicing Sufi, Bellatin has won many international prizes, including, most recently, Cuba’s 2015 José María Arguedas Prize. He lives in Mexico City, Mexico.
David Shook's many translations include work by Mario Bellatin, Tedi López Mills, and Víctor Terán. Their collection of poetry, Our Obsidian Tongues, was long-listed for the International Dylan Thomas Prize. They live in Los Angeles.