Aguilar Camín, Héctor 1946-
Aguilar Camín, Héctor 1946-
Born July 9, 1946, in Chetumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico; children: three. Education: Universidad Iberoamericana, B.S.; El Colegio de México, Ph.D.
Instituto Nacional de Anthropología e Historia, worked as research historian; UnoMásUno, worked as chief of information, La Jornada, assistant director, 1984-87; Nexos, director, 1982-84. University of North Carolina, Hanes-Willis Visiting Professor of Humanities, 1996; also visiting professor at Columbia University.
Mexican National Journalism Prize, 1986; Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, 1989-90; Prize of Mazatlán Literature, 1998, for Un soplo en el río; Medal Gabriela Mistral of Chile, 2001.
(With others) En torno de la Cultura Nacional, Instituto Nacional Indigenista (Mexico City, Mexico), 1976.
La frontera nómada: Sonora y la Revolución Mexicana, Siglo XXI (Mexico City, Mexico), 1977.
Con el filtro azul (short stories), 1979.
(With others) Caudillo and Peasant in the Mexican Revolution, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, England), 1980.
(With others) Historia: o para que?, Siglo XXI (Mexico City, Mexico), 1980.
Morir en el golfo (novel), Océano (Mexico City, Mexico), 1980.
La decadencia del dragón (short stories), Océano (Mexico City, Mexico), 1983.
Saldos de la Revolución, Océano (Mexico City, Mexico), 1984.
(Editor) México ante la crisis, Siglo XXI (Mexico City, Mexico), 1985.
(With Lorenzo Meyer) A la sombra de la revolución Mexicana, Cal y Arena (Mexico City, Mexico), 1989, translation by Luis Alberto Fierro published as In the Shadow of the Mexican Revolution: Contemporary Mexican History, 1910-1989, University of Texas Press (Austin, TX), 1993.
Historia gráfica de México, Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes/Patria (Mexico City, Mexico), 1989.
La Guerra de Galio (novel), Cal y Arena (Mexico City, Mexico), 1990.
El error de la luna (novel), Alfaguara (Mexico City, Mexico), 1995.
Un soplo en el río (novel), 1997.
El resplandor de la madera (novel), Alfaguara (Mexico City, Mexico), 1999.
México, la ceniza y la semilla, Cal y Arena (Mexico City, Mexico), 2000.
Mandatos del corazón, Editorial Sudamericana (Buenos Aires, Argentina), 2002.
Las mujeres de Adriano (novel), Alfaguara (Madrid, Spain), 2002.
La tragedia de Colosio: Seguín el testimonio de sus propios actores, tal como puede hallarse en los ordenados infiernos de la fiscalía especial del magnicido (novel), Alfaguara (Mexico City, Mexico), 2004.
La conspiración de la fortuna (novel), Planeta (Mexico City, Mexico), 2005.
Contributor to Carlos Fuentes: Cahier dirigé par Claude Fell et Jorge Volpi. Contributor to newspapers and magazines, including La Jornada, UnomásUno, La Cultura en México, La Jornada semanal, and Nexos.
Héctor Aguilar Camín is a distinguished historian, journalist, and novelist whose work about Mexico is internationally recognized. His novels and short stories often tackle two subjects that are shared by his literary contemporaries: the overwhelming size and population of Mexico City and the 1968 student demonstrations that were violently repressed, subsequently leading to political disillusionment.
According to Gabriela De Beer in the InterAmerican Review of Bibliography, Aguilar Camín's historical works anticipated the novels that he would later write. In particular, she referred to La frontera nómada: Sonora y la Revolución Mexicana and Saldos de la Revolución as being precursors of the author's novelistic style.
La frontera nómada is an erudite historical study of the Mexican state of Sonora. Aguilar Camín describes Sonora's peculiar geographic position and the powerful families who inhabited the state. The author further delves into the evolution of the political leaders and the consequences of the Mexican Revolution. De Beer considered that this work gives the reader a full picture of the Mexican Revolution and also demonstrates the author's education and his interest in history.
In contrast to that book, Saldos de la Revolución contains a collection of essays that are concerned with the theme of the Revolution of 1910. In these pieces, Aguilar Camín gives a critical but balanced picture of a topic that normally evokes a fiery and passionate discussion. He utilizes his talents as a historian and modern journalist to illustrate how the consequences of the Mexican Revolution of 1910 extend into the life and politics of present-day Mexico. Aguilar Camín mentions certain characteristics that carried over from the past into the present, such as the glorification of Mexican nationalism, political positions as a source of great personal wealth, the element of opportunism, the veneration of political leaders and the corresponding loss of respect for public opinion, and the pervasive presence of bribery, crime, and violence. The author particularly emphasizes the role of journalism in such a culture, inasmuch as journalists can impart moral and political perspective to their readers.
In 1985 Aguilar Camín wrote his first novel, Morir en el golfo. Gabriela De Beer in the InterAmerican Review of Bibliography noted that this book is the work of a journalist and novelist who takes advantage of both genres in order to describe contemporary Mexican history. The plot of Morir en el golfo involves a journalist (the unnamed narrator) who is approached by some old university friends, Rojano, and his wife, Anabela. In the name of friendship, the couple asks the journalist to investigate a series of seemingly unconnected assassinations. In reality, however, the murders are connected to the political ambitions of a local tyrant, Lázaro Pizarro, who uses any means to acquire tracts of petroleum-rich land in the states of Vera Cruz and Hidalgo. Rojano has a vested interest in the journalist's investigation, since Rojano owns some lands adjacent to Pizarro's property, and he fears that he might be the next victim.
Aguilar Camín presents the four principal characters of this novel—the narrator, Rojano, Anabela, and Pizarro—in all their ambivalent complexity. Each one oscillates between polarities: good and evil, interest and disinterest, corruption and honesty. De Beer observed in her essay that the juxtaposition and interplay of these polarities allow the author to paint a portrait of contemporary Mexican men and women who are disconnected from their traditional roots and in search of an identity but are still bound by old patterns of personal ambitions, corrupt practices, and the use and abuse of friendships and connections.
While the political conspiracies and assassinations occur elsewhere, the novel's action is centered in the capital, Mexico City. The author takes the reader on a journey through the principal streets of the city, into the inner offices of government bureaucrats and newspaper writers, and to the tables of the restaurants in the Red District. His descriptions are so graphic and precise that one could easily forget that Morir en el golfo is a novel.
In the magazine Chasqui, Manuel F. Medina described Morir en el golfo as a magnificent novel that refuses to give readers all the necessary information to understand the mystery, prior to the finale. He felt that the author presents the characters in such a way that by the end of the book readers must decide for themselves who is guilty and who is innocent. Medina also wrote that the novel suggests that those who control political power also control the dissemination of information; they fabricate the "truth" and hinder the public from gaining knowledge of the radical movement of syndicalism or the fact that the government supports the movement.
In 1989 Aguilar Camín collaborated with Lorenzo Meyer on A la sombra de la revolución Mexicana. This historical work describes the changes that occurred in Mexico between the 1910 Revolution and the 1988 political elections. A reviewer in Choice felt that this book "could have been greatly improved if the implications of the title had been explored." He noted, however, that the authors clearly portray post-revolutionary Mexico.
Aguilar Camín's La Guerra de Galio is a fictionalized account of the violent repression of the 1968 student uprising and the Mexican government's role in it. Author Carlos Fuentes commended the book, which incorporates elements of biography, history, and sociology, for its "blinding clarity."
El error de la luna is an account of the Gonzalbo family, who migrated from Spain to Mexico. Throughout several generations, misfortunes befall the female members of this family. Finally the present-day protagonist, Leonor, decides to investigate the past and heal the legacy of her ancestors. Rafael M. Gonzalez discussed this book in Library Journal, calling it "a delightful novel with an uninhibited tone."
In El resplandor de la madera, Aguilar Camín tells the story of Casares, a poor young Mexican who strives to overcome ignorance and poverty while maintaining his integrity. The author combines Casares's struggles with matters connected to the past and present Mexico. A reviewer from Publishers Weekly considered the book to be a "fresh and dynamic" work.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Americas, May-June, 2006, Enriqueta Cabrera, interview of Aguilar Camín.
Chasqui, November, 1995, Manuel F. Medina, "Interpretando el archivo: las estrategias de la novela detectivesca en Morir en el golfo," pp. 24-31.
Choice, July-August, 1994, review of In the Shadow of the Mexican Revolution: Contemporary Mexican History, 1910-1989, p. 1779.
Library Journal, July, 1996, Rafael M. Gonzalez, review of El error de la luna, p. 94.
New York Times Book Review, November 11, 1984, Jonathan Kandell, "Letter from Mexico—Young Writers Discover the Urban Novel," pp. 3-5.
Publishers Weekly, May, 1994, review of La Guerra de Galio; August, 1999, review of El resplandor de la madera.
Revista Interamericana de Bibliografia/InterAmerican Review of Bibliography, 1992, Gabriel De Beer, "Narrativa y periodismo en Morir en el golfo de Hector Aguilar Camín," pp. 215-221.