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Free Radicals is the story of a girl who finds herself watching her mother run off with her lover on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The aftermath makes for the most incredible novel of our times: a saga that reconstructs over six decades in the history of Mexico, the United States, and the world, marking at least four generations. Rosa Beltrán’s fascinating journey recreates events that changed history forever: the expansion of communism in Latin America, the student movements of the 1960s, the Moon landing, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, the Cultural Revolution, the dramatic rise of migration, drug trafficking, the social media explosion, and the growth of the middle class. Told in first person, from the retrospective view of the protagonist, the book sheds light on things that once went unnamed, like “domestic violence” or “femicide.”
This book is a work of art, a document, a diary, a memoir for both English- speaking and Spanish-speaking communities and, for everyone who wants to make sense of what we’re experiencing, where we come from, what our parents have been through, and how our continent has transformed forever.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, our precocious young protagonist reads in a volume of Nietzsche the day her daredevilish mother leaves her and her siblings behind in search of love, art, and adventure. And the wheels of this family’s intimate story thrust the reader headlong into the sweeping history of contemporary Mexico from the 60’s student unrest to the present day. A poignant narrative, richly courageous, full of love and laughter in a pitch-perfect translation by Robin Myers.
— Valerie Miles writer, translator and editor

Rosa Beltrán in English at last! Author of an oeuvre of fierce intelligence and incomparable wit, Beltrán is a bedrock of contemporary Mexican letters. Whether in dazzling essays or in well-researched historical novels, she has proven to be an indispensable witness of our turbulent times. In Free Radicals, her best novel yet, Beltran uses her considerable narrative skills and critical fabulation to bring together three generations of women whose lives--complex. wayward, unique--constitute question marks to the status quo. Just as they are defined in chemistry, these "free radicals" easily react with other molecules, unleashing large change reactions in bodies and society. As intimate as it is subversive, Beltrán´s view of women in Mexico will not leave you unscathed. — Cristina Rivera Garza, writer

What is it about a woman’s body that inspires such violence, asks Rosa Beltran’s narrator as she tells the tumultous story of three generations of women seeking self-realization and freedom. A runaway mother is at the center of this tale in which women united by family and friendship face the aggression of strangers and intimate partners in a fracturing society. From the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre to the narco-wars of the 80s and 90s and the COVID pandemic, Free Radicals paints a nuanced portrait of Mexico City over the past half century, a place that, in Robin Myer’s seamless translation, feels at once familiar and surreal. For those who loved Alfonso Cuarón’s 2018 movie Roma, this is a must-read. — D. P. Snyder, writer and translator

Free Radicals

  • Author

    Rosa Beltrán

  • Translator

    Robin Myers

  • ISBN 13: 979-8986528458

    228 pages 

  • Published by

    katakana editores




    Hablemos escritoras



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