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Lotería 

by Mario Alberto Zambrano (HarperCollins)

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This little gem of a book is, in the way that only Mexican, Central and South American literature can be, as dark and gritty as it is poetic; as fanciful as it is starkly realist. Using the deck of the Mexican Bingo-style card game, Lotería, as its visual and contextual muse, a family saga is told in 54 chapters, each thematically linked to a card. The cards themselves, which feature everyday objects,---El Melón; El Paraguas---mythological creatures ---La Sirena; El Diablito---and concepts central to Mexican culture---La Rosa; La Calavera---are representative of the complexity and range of this novel: a heartbreaking narrative that is just as funny as it is tragic and domestic. My only complaint is that perhaps the diches---rhymes associated with each card, explaining their meaning---might have been included. Don’t read this book without doing a bit of research---it will increase your enjoyment exponentially.

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Vol 25, No 21
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