Nine short stories open a door into working class Santurce, Puerto Rico, where shoddy medical offices, Catholic churches, Mormon temples, and Santeria storefronts line the sunbaked streets. Here, a bumbling prostitute-turned-fugitive bewilderingly avoids capture. Back-biting mothers hand down judgment on their neighbors and the world at large from their front lawns. A desperate dog-owner will do anything to have his precious animal sent to a taxidermist. A young Chosen One with a curious gift helps his fellow parishioners find God.
Mundo Cruel, Luis Negron's debut book, elegantly presents to its readers a world both tragic and outrageous. Masterfully satirical with a discrete solemnity at its core, Mundo Cruel's most remarkable element is its language. Several of its stories feature unnamed protagonists brought to life by their speech—colloquial, self-incriminating, and idiosyncratic—revealing Negron's mesmerizing talent for conjuring the spoken word in all its subtlety.
This was definitely one of those books that's translation captured the depths of its essence. Mundo Cruel was a shocking, provocative compilation of nine stories that's narrative was bold, engaging yet raised eyebrows. The characters were distinctive and easy to read. As a reader, you will experience writing at it most intimate and purest form without filter. There is something about the way these characters were written that truly come alive and just leap off the page. As a disclaimer, for those who may not feel comfortable with stories that involve gay life, there are mentions throughout the stories. I encourage you as a reader to be open minded and read to appreciate the quality of its artistic prose and progressive narrative.
Reviewed by Michelle Bowles
Publisher: Seven Stories Press
Release Date: 3/12/2013