Gustavo Sainz Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Gustavo Sainz (saynz), Mexican novelist, critic, and journalist, is best known as a founder of the literature of la onda, a mid-1960’s countercultural movement in Mexico representative of the growing restlessness of youth and defined particularly by a lack of concern toward Mexican national identity.

Sainz’s early life was marked by the absence of the mother he did not know until adulthood and the influence of the father who raised him. Engaging his son in adventures such as mountain climbing, Sainz’s father shared his love of literature that eventually spawned an interest in language and writing. Nonetheless, poverty and a broken home were hardships, and the difficulties of his adolescence would later be reflected in his early work.

Between 1959 and 1962, Sainz published a number of short stories. He attended the National Autonomous University of Mexico, where a grant from the Centro Mexicana de Escritores allowed him to complete and preview the novel Gazapo. Initial reaction to the work was negative; however, when it was published several years later, the program’s director and others praised the book and welcomed Sainz’s entry into Mexican letters.

Published in 1965, Gazapo portrays a week in the lives of a group of middle-class teenagers in the Mexican capital. Seeking refuge in his mother’s vacant apartment, Menelao and his friends play out their fantasies through a series of conversations. Sainz employs several techniques to develop the narrative of the novel, most notably the fragments of tape recordings from which the protagonist splices together his own novel. The collage of real and imagined scenes defines the character’s emotional and sexual...

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Gustavo Sainz Bibliography

(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

D’Lugo, Carol Clark. The Fragmented Novel in Mexico: The Politics of Form. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1997. Sainz is one of several writers discussed in this study that links the fragmentation of narrative to an underlying fragmentation in political and social life that belies the myth of Mexican national unity.

Fernandez, Salvador. Gustavo Sainz: Postmodernism and the Mexican Novel. New York: P. Lang, 1999. Provides a comprehensive analysis, attempting to draw some general conclusions about the body of Sainz’s work.

Gyruko, Lanin A. “Twentieth Century Fiction.” In Mexican Literature: A History, edited by David William Foster. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994. In English, an excellent overview of twentieth century Mexican fiction with some reference to the place of Sainz.

Williams, Raymond L. The Postmodern Novel in Latin America: Politics, Culture, and the Crisis of Truth. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995. In his chapter on the Mexican writers, Williams places Sainz in the “first wave” of the Mexican postmodernist movement.