The Golden Cockerel & Other Writings

The Golden Cockerel & Other Writings

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By Juan Rulfo

Translated from the Spanish by Douglas J. Weatherford

“Juan Rulfo is our most important author.” —Yuri Herrera, author of Signs Preceding the End of the World

This work presents Rulfo's cinematic second novel in English for the first time ever alongside several stories never before translated.

Publication Date: May 16, 2017

Paperback: 9781941920589

Description

“Among contemporary writers in Mexico today [1959], Juan Rulfo is expected to rank among the immortals.” —The New York Times Book Review

The legendary title novella from one of Mexico’s most influential writers is published here in English for the first time on the 100th anniversary of his birth. This lost masterwork, collected with his previously untranslated stories, marks a landmark event in world literature.

Biographical Note

Juan Rulfo (1917-1986) was one of Mexico’s premier authors of the twentieth century and an important precursor of “magical realism” in Latin American writing. Rulfo has been credited with influencing the work of several generations of Latin American writers, including Sergio Pitol and Gabriel García Márquez. He is well known for his novel, Pedro Páramo, and short story collection, The Burning Plain (El llano en llamas). Deep Vellum’s forthcoming publication of The Golden Cockerel & Other Writings introduces his cinematic novella, originally made into an award-winning film, into English for the first time, along with a collection of rare, previously untranslated writings. Rulfo received Mexico’s National Prize for Literature (Premio Nacional de Literatura) in 1970, was elected to the Mexican Academy of Language (Academia Mexicana de la Lengua) in 1980, and received the Cervantes Prize (Premio Cervantes), the highest literary award in Spanish, in 1985. Rulfo suffered from lung cancer in his final months and died on January 7, 1986 at his home in Mexico City.

Reviews

“Among contemporary writers in Mexico today [1959], Juan Rulfo is expected to rank among the immortals.” The New York Times Book Review

“To read Rulfo’s stories is to inhabit Mexico and, in the process, to have Mexico inhabit you.” —Oscar Casares, NPR

“You can read Rulfo’s slight but dense body of work in a couple of days, but that represents only a first step into territories that are yet to be definitively mapped. Their exploration is one of the more remarkable journeys in literature.” —Chris Power, The Guardian

“Rulfo, through his photographs and his books, seems to be saying, Look! See! This world is here before us, it lacerates us with the anguished and ill-fated weight of its tangible reality. Come look!” BOMB Magazine

“Rulfo’s work is at its core about people who do their best to unburden themselves of the stories they never stop telling.” —Peter Orner, The Rumpus

“…This is a book that is valuable in itself for its expression of the narrative talent of Juan Rulfo…Apart from the first images, which are truly cinematic and serve to introduce the protagonist…the reader soon forgets that he is reading a storyline written for the cinema.” —Evodia Escalante, Casa Del Tiempo

“Rulfo’s work is infinitely readable, inventive, and short… The Golden Cockerel & Other Writings shows Rulfo at his most intellectual and socially aware.” —Joshua Foster, Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts

“Octavio Paz has said that Juan Rulfo ‘is the only Mexican novelist who has given us an image—instead of just a description—of our landscape.’ By the same token we could say that Josephine Sacabo is the only photographer who has given us an image of that most elusive of landscapes conceived by Juan Rulfo—Cosala.” Buenos Aires Herald

“Rulfo’s work is infinitely readable, inventive, and short… The Golden Cockerel & Other Writings shows Rulfo at his most intellectual and socially aware.” —Joshua Foster, Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts

"...This is a book that is valuable in itself for its expression of the narrative talent of Juan Rulfo...Apart from the first images, which are truly cinematic and serve to introduce the protagonist...the reader soon forgets that he is reading a storyline written for the cinema." —Evodia Escalante, Casa Del Tiempo

Excerpt

THE MORNING WAS BREAKING.

Along the abandoned streets of San Miguel del Milagro, one or two shawl-covered women strolled toward the church, answering the call for first mass. A few others swept the dusty streets.

In the distance, far enough away that his words were imperceptible, one could hear the clamor of a crier. One of those town criers that go from street corner to corner shouting the description of some lost animal, of a missing boy, or of a lost girl… In the case of the girl the account went further, since in addition to giving the date of her disappearance it was imperative to announce the likely culprit who had stolen her away, where she had been taken, and whether the parents wanted to object to or accept the arrangement. This was done to keep the town informed of what had happened and to shame the runaways into joining in matrimony… As for the lost animals, the crier would have to go out and search for them himself if announcing their loss came to naught, since otherwise no one would pay for the job.

As the women disappeared in the direction of the church, the crier’s report could be heard even closer, until, stopped on some street corner and projecting his voice through his hands, he launched his shrill and quick-witted chants:

—Tan-colored sorrel… Of large stature… Five years old… Timid… Mark on its haunch… Branded on the same… Draw reigns… Wandered off the day before yesterday from the Potrero Hondo… Belongs to Don Secundino Colmenero. Twenty pesos reward to whoever finds him… No questions asked…This last sentence was long and out of tune. After a while the crier walked a short ways and repeated the same refrain, until the announcement faded and eventually dissolved into the farthest corners of the village.

The guy who plied this trade was Dionisio Pinzo´n, one of the poorest men of San Miguel del Milagro. He lived in a miserable shack on the edge of town in the company of his mother, an unwell and aged woman, more from want than from years. And even though the appearance of Dionisio Pinzo´n was that of a strong man, in truth he was disabled, with one of his arms disfigured, who knows just how. What’s certain is that this made it impossible for him to complete some tasks, whether as a laborer or as a farmhand, the only occupations that were to be had in town. As such he was good for nothing, or at least that’s how people saw him. And that’s why he dedicated himself to the vocation of town crier, a trade that didn’t require the use of his arms and that he completed quite well, since he had a voice and a willingness to do the job.

There was no corner of San Miguel del Milagro where he didn’t shout his news, perhaps working on commission for some client or, if not, searching for the priest’s scrawny cow that had the bad habit of bolting for the hills every time it discovered the gate to the parish corral open, something that happened all too often. And even when there was no shortage of men out of work who, upon hearing the news, would offer to go in search of the aforementioned cow, there were times when Dionisio would take the task upon himself and receive for his efforts only a few blessings and the promise of collecting some payment in Heaven.

Through it all, whether he was paid or not, his voice never wavered and he just kept at it since, to be honest, what else could he do to keep from dying of hunger. And yet he didn’t always make it home with his hands empty, like on this occasion when he had the job of announcing the loss of Don Secundino Colmenero’s sorrel, from early in the morning until late at night, when it seemed that his yelling was blending with the barking of the dogs in the sleepy town. In any event, the horse had not turned up by the end of the day, nor was there anyone who could confirm its whereabouts, and Don Secundino wasn’t going to pay up without first seeing his animal napping in the corral, not wanting to throw good money after bad. And yet so that Dionisio Pinzo´n wouldn’t become discouraged and stop announcing his loss, he gave him a tenth of a liter of beans as an advance that the crier wrapped in his scarf and carried home about midnight, which is when he arrived, burdened with hunger and fatigue. And like other times, his mother had managed to prepare him a bit of coffee and some navegantes, which weren’t anything more than parboiled cactus leaves that at least served to fool his stomach.

But things weren’t always so bad.