Daniel Sada’s “Almost Never”

Sada was, without a doubt, a writer’s writer. Like Faulkner or Joyce or David Foster Wallace, he produced rich, dense, diabolically difficult novels — some written in octosyllabic and hendecasyllabic meter, all punctuated with a set of bizarre rules. But the rewards, for anyone in love with the Spanish language, were legion. These were gargantuan masterpieces, clear rejoinders to the stark, minimalist work of Juan Rulfo, whose “Pedro Paramo” had dominated the Mexican literary landscape for more than half a century. They stood in clear contrast, too, to thin, bleak novels by young Mexican writers of the Crack Movement, who fought hard to distance themselves from Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Mario Vargas Llosa or Julio Cortazar and then self-destructed in the fray. Just as Sada’s weird, culturally incorrect novels began to be noticed — just as Mexico conferred on him its most coveted national prize — a renal malady took him. And so we are left with the Sada we have.

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