CHRISTOPHER UNBORN, originally published in Spanish as CRISTOBAL NONATO in 1987, is a wildly inventive novel. In 1992, Mexico is crumbling; Mexico City is choking because of overpopulation and gross governmental mismanagement. Into this depressing world, Fuentes inserts a young couple, Angel and Angeles, who conceive a child while on the beach at Acapulco. The Mexican government has announced that it will award a large prize to the first male born on Columbus Day, October 12, 1992, because it will be the five hundredth anniversary of Columbus’ discovery of America. The narrator of CHRISTOPHER UNBORN is the fetus, and the novel is nine chapters long to correspond with the nine-month gestation period before the child’s birth.
The fetus seems to have a knowledge of many topics. Myriad outrageous events are vividly presented. The real and imaginary history of Mexico is revealed in stinging satiric fashion. The tone is both grim and absurd, but Fuentes also makes CHRISTOPHER UNBORN very funny with endless jibes at Mexican and American political figures and many piercing puns.
Angel and Angeles must endure hardships throughout the novel; they always seem to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Nevertheless, they survive the cruelty inflicted on them both by greedy and sadistic thugs--governmental as well as revolutionary--and by each other. Angel has a reputation as a womanizer, and in the course of the novel, he is unfaithful to Angeles. She is hurt by his infidelity and lashes back at him by claiming that the child may not be his. They are ultimately reconciled, realizing that they can only...
(The entire section is 661 words.)