Paco Ignacio Taibo II Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Paco Ignacio Taibo II first captured Mexican readers’ imaginations with private detective Héctor Belascoarán Shayne. He then increased his popularity with series and nonseries crime novels that push the boundaries of the genre, using multiple viewpoints, bending reality, drawing mysteries around historical figures and incidents, and exposing the effects of corruption. Taibo’s first novel featuring Belascoarán, his iconoclastic investigator, was published in 1976, and he has continued to produce novels in this series. The eighth novel in the series, Muertos incómodos (2005; The Uncomfortable Dead: What’s Missing Is Missing, 2006) represents a true novelty in literature. Featuring Belascoarán in alternating chapters, The Uncomfortable Dead is a collaborative effort between Taibo and the masked Chiapas guerrilla known only as Subcomandante Marcos. Serialized in La Jornada, the novel prompted a 20 percent rise in the Mexico City leftist newspaper’s circulation and cemented Taibo’s reputation as one of the world’s most inventive, articulate and risk-taking crime writers.

Taibo, a naturalized Mexican citizen since 1980, has become one of Mexico’s most popular authors and received many literary awards for both his fiction and nonfiction. He won the 1982 Grijalbo Prize for his creative account of the 1968 massacre, Heroes convocados: Manual para la toma del poder (1982; Calling All Heroes: A Manual for Taking Power, 1990), and took the National History Prize for his narrative history Los Bolshevikis: Historia narrativa de los origenes del comunismo en México 1919-1925 (1986). Taibo also won Dashiell Hammett Awards for the best crime novel in Spanish for La vida misma (1987; Life Itself, 1994), Cuatro Manos (1990; Four Hands, 1994), and La bicicleta de Leonardo (1993; Leonardo’s Bicycle, 1995); the International Planeta Prize for the best historical novel in 1992; and the Bancarella Prize for his fictionalized biography of Che Guevera in 1998. A global best-selling author for more than thirty years—his books are sold in more than twenty countries—Taibo has made inroads into the American mystery community because of translations of a few of his novels beginning in the early 1990’s. The majority of his works, however, are not yet available in English.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Braham, Persephone. Crimes Against the State, Crimes Against Persons: Detective Fiction in Cuba and Mexico. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2004. A critical analysis of the differences and similarities between detective fiction in the two countries; includes the works of Taibo.

Ross, John. “One Hundred Days of Solitude.” L.A. Weekly, March 18, 1998. An article touching on Taibo’s investigation into government corruption in Mexico City.

Slivka, Andrey. “Leftist Noir.” Review of The Uncomfortable Dead, by Paco Ignacio Taibo II. The New York Times Book Review, November 19, 2006, p. 27. Reviewer feels that the collaboration with Subcomandante Marcos does not work because the guerrilla’s portions are not as well written and do not follow the conventions of fiction but are primarily message oriented.

Stavans, Ilan. Conversations with Ilan Stavans. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2005. Interviews with Latino artists, writers, entertainers, and intellectuals from both sides of the United States-Mexico border, including Taibo.

Taibo, Paco Ignacio, II. “No Happy Endings.” Interview by John F. Baker. Boston Review, February/March 2001. An interview with Taibo focusing on his writing techniques.

Taibo, Paco Ignacio, II. Paco Ignacio Taibo II: México y Nubes. The official Web site of the author contains a biography, bibliography, interview, and other information. In Spanish.

Wyels, Joyce Gregory. “Walking with Mexico City’s Private Eye.” Americas 57, no. 4 (July/August, 2005): 20-27. Wyels strolls through Mexico City with Taibo, who discusses his love-hate relationship with the city and how it affects his writing. Includes discussion of Taibo’s home and private life as well as a brief look at his private eye.