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Destination Reads: The Best Books to Transport You to Mexico

Posted on 18th June 2019 by Mark Skinner

From the mountains of the North to the farmlands of the South, and from the romanticism of the traditional hacienda to the teeming urban sprawl of the populous capital (not to mention the sensational beaches), Mexico is a wonderfully exotic country, rich in diversity and atmosphere. Dive in to this stunning selection of evocative Mexicana from some of the biggest names in literature.

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A magical love story, celebration of feminine power and mouth-watering Mexican recipe guide, Like Water for Chocolate is uniquely structured and sensuously written. Playful and earthy with a delightfully nimble prose style, Esquivel’s cult classic is a singular guide to the Latin heart and stomach.
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Written with cinematic flair and a keen eye for vivid pen portraits, Villa and Zapata is a fast-paced, thoroughly involving history of the Mexican Revolution as seen through the eyes of its two most charismatic and legendary figures. Packed with enough action, betrayal, intrigue and heroism for ten novels, this is electrifying historical writing.

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One of the most prominent Catholic novelists of the twentieth century, Greene poured all of his tormented faith into The Power and the Glory, arguably his greatest book. The violent, bruising but ultimately redemptive tale of a ‘whisky priest’ on the run from the Mexican authorities, it stands as a raw, agonised narrative of the conflicting desires of religion and humanism.
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A collection of essays penned in the 1920s, Mornings in Mexico is literary travel writing of the first rank. Imbuing everyday details with near mystical exoticism and tracing a path across the Indian tribes and communities of the nation, Lawrence uncovers a Mexico that still informs our understanding of the country to this day.
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Suffused with McCarthy’s trademark rough-hewn lyricism, All the Pretty Horses is the story of three US ranchers’ odyssey across the Mexican border. Mythic in conception and redolent of the richness of frontier culture, this modern masterpiece is a rugged morality tale that packs an almighty punch.
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Steinbeck’s novella is a deceptively simple fable about greed, poverty and deadly envy, written in plain, powerful prose. The capture of an exquisite pearl sets in motion a train of events that threaten to fracture a poor Indian community in the Mexican city of La Paz, as dark desires and bitter enmities are brought to the fore.
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Bedford’s peripatetic wanderings in 1940s Mexico make for delightful, evocative reading as she and her nameless companion meander along the coast, brave endless ramshackle modes of transportation and enjoy the hospitality of the gregarious Don Otavio on his idyllic hacienda. Written with a novelist’s sense of comedy and drama, A Visit to Don Otavio is a classic of post-war travel writing.
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In its near-future narrative of US-Mexican confrontation, The Eagle’s Throne may prove eerily prophetic. Blending coruscating satire with a gripping storyline of power plays and political intrigue, Fuentes’ arch, intelligent novel speaks volumes about the complex nature of an uneasy diplomatic relationship.
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Renowned for his pioneering studies of the human mind, Oliver Sacks was also an enthusiastic researcher of the natural world, and, in particular, the rich diversity of the humble fern. Oaxaca Journal recounts his trip to the eponymous Mexican region and his study of this extraordinary plant, with the kind of insight and compulsive readability that makes his scientific writing so popular.
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The final hours of the doomed British ex-consul Geoffrey Firmin in the swirl and swelter of Mexico’s Day of the Dead festivities are a fever dream of pirouetting prose and delirious imagery in Lowry’s outstanding tour de force.
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