Jose Saramago on Carlos Fuentes

Now for a confession. Personally I am not easily intimidated, quite the contrary, but my first encounters with Carlos Fuentes, which of course were always polite, as one would have expected of two well-brought-up people, were not easy, not through any fault of his but because of a kind of resistance on my part to accepting naturally something which in Carlos Fuentes is extremely natural–that is, his style of dress. We all know that Fuentes dresses well, with elegance and good taste, his shirt never wrinkled, but for some mysterious reason I thought that a writer, especially one from that part of the world, should not dress in that way. My mistake. Carlos Fuentes managed to make the greatest critical demands and the greatest ethical rigor–both of which he has–compatible with a well-chosen tie. Believe me, that’s no small thing.

translated by Amanda Hopkinson & Daniel Hahn

from Tell Me How It Ends by Valeria Luiselli

In varying degrees, some papers and webpages announce the arrival of undocumented children like a biblical plague. Beware the locusts! They will cover the face of the ground so that it cannot be seen–these menacing, coffee-colored boys and girls, with their obsidian hair and slant eyes. They will fall from the skies, on our cars, on our green lawns, on our heads, on our schools, on our Sundays. They will make a racket, they will bring their chaos, their sickness, their dirt, their brownness. They will cloud the pretty views, they will fill the future with bad omens, they will fill our tongues with barbarisms. And if they are allowed to stay here they will–eventually–reproduce!

We wonder if the reactions would be different were all these children of a lighter color: of better, purer breed and nationalities. Would they be treated more like people? More like children? We read the papers, listen to the radio, see photographs, and wonder.