In 2014, one of my students returned from Mexico with a gift for me: a collection by Mónica Lavín. Those stories – including Ladies Bar, which is in this book – explored the fraught terrain of love, sex, desire, obsession, and fantasy and they were the most visceral and unabashedly physical tales by a Hispanic woman I had ever read. They wounded me, wonderfully. But Monica’s books were hard to find in the U.S., and none of them had been translated into English.
Mónica Lavín has published ten novels, twelve collections, three works of YA fiction, and five nonfiction books; she has won some of Mexico’s most important literary honors, including the Elena Poniatowska Ibero-american Novel Prize (2010). The present collection introduces her to an English-language readership. I have selected stories originally published in several different collections, those that left the deepest mark on me for their unflinching gaze at human desire and the body. Mónica’s characters tread the slender, permeable borders between parent and child, stranger and lover, have and have-not, male and female. We peer into their wounds and see reflected there our own pain and passion. These stories are not for the faint of heart – but they are for those with heart.
I hope my translations possess the grace of both the original texts and their author. I hope these stories wound you, too.
– Dorothy Potter Snyder (writer and translator), August 2021
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