“One of the most versatile and unpredictable storytellers from today’s Latin American literature.”Marco Kunz, Quimera
“His stories are very corporal, even voluptuous: pure flesh.”Jorge Carrión, Otra Parte
“Had Alberto Chimal written the History of the human race, this world would be a much more interesting place.”Eme Equis magazine
Alberto Chimal (Toluca, 1970) is one of Mexico’s most prolific authors. His work encompasses a variety of genres and forms, including the novel, short story, essay, experimental fiction, and children’s literature. He is also a sought-after clinician, lecturer, and teacher of creative writing. The recipient of numerous awards, his second novel, La torre y el jardín, was shortlisted in 2013 for the Rómulo Gallegos prize, one of the most prestigious in the Spanish language. His work has been translated into numerous languages.
The Most Fragile Objects, Chimal’s first novel published in translation, tells three stories (maybe two, or just one) of people living secret lives in early 21st-century Mexico. They seem to indulge in wanton sex and power fantasies. But is everything what it appears to be? With a style that never resorts to titillation and a plot structure in which the factual and the dubious chase each other, The Most Fragile Objects, is an unusual, dark take on the themes of power, love, imagination, and freedom.
In 2020, two stories by Chimal appeared in the anthology The Big Book of Modern Fantasy, published by Vintage Anchor and edited by American writers Ann and Jeff Vandermeer. Combining such classic authors as Jorge Luis Borges or Gabriel García Márquez with well-known English language figures like Stephen King and Angela Carter, and cult writers from all over the world, this mammoth collection is one of the best and most comprehensive collections of weird fiction ever published, and Chimal is the only Mexican author featured in it.
In 2021, Chimal was invited to contribute to Batman: The World, an international comic anthology featuring 14 different stories about the classic character, each one by a different team from a different country. Representing Mexico, «Funeral», written by Chimal and Illustrated by Rulo Valdés, takes the Dark Knight to an adventure in Mexico City, in which present-day violence opens the door to a mystery of the city’s past.
In his own language, Alberto Chimal is known for his interest in the fantastic imagination —a Latin American mode, quite different from the English language fantasy genre— which he has deployed in other award-winning novels and short stories. Among others, he has won the Premio Bellas Artes de Cuento San Luis Potosí (Mexico’s National Short Story Award, 2002); the Premio de Literatura Estado de México (State of Mexico’s Literary Award, 2012); the Premio Colima de Narrativa (Colima Fiction Award, 2013); the Fundación Cuatrogatos Award, which recognizes the best children’s and YA literature written in Spanish, in 2019, and the YA Novel Prize from Banco del Libro, given in 2021 to his novel La Noche en la Zona M.
Also, the picture book for children La madre y la muerte / La partida (which features one story by Chimal and another one by Argentinian writer Alberto Laiseca) was selected in 2016 for the White Ravens world catalogue of the best children’s/YA fiction, which is created at the Internationale Jugendbibliothek in Munich, Germany, and his short story “City X” received the Best Short Story award from SF in Translation in 2018.
Beyond fiction, Chimal has published essays, theater plays, articles, translations, and two creative writing manuals. He also co-wrote the script for the feature film 7:19, la hora del temblor (2016) with director Jorge Michel Grau. It was the first realistic drama ever made about the catastrophic earthquake that devastated Mexico City in 1985, a mayor event in that country’s history. More film projects are forthcoming.
Since 1993, Chimal has taught literature and creative writing; among his students, some have gone on to receive national and international recognition. He holds a Master’s degree on Comparative Literature from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). Some of his works have been translated into English, French, Italian, German, Hungarian, Farsi, Hebrew, Mixe, Zapotec, Mixtec, and Esperanto. He lives in Mexico City with his wife, writer Raquel Castro; they both maintain a YouTube channel about books, creative writing and similar subjects.
Interviews and profiles
- This profile interview with Julia Rios, the editor of the MexicanxInitiative.com site, may be a good entry point to Chimal’s work and career.
Italian – Italiano
- «Una possibilità del linguaggio – Intervista a Alberto Chimal», a wider view of Chimal’s influences and ideas about writing, made by Alfredo Zucchi and Luca Mignola.
Portuguese – português
- «Alberto Chimal — ficcionista», a profile by Daniele Aparecida Pereira on the Diccionario Digital Insólito Ficcional website.
Selected works in translation
(please see individual links for translation credits)
- Visionaries (anthology; Traviesa, 2014)
- French – Français
- La mère et la mort / Le départ (children’s stories; Le Tripode, 2018)
- Italian – Italiano
- «Funeral» in Batman: The World (DC Comics, 2021), illustrated by Rulo Valdés
Fiction and non fiction online
- «Literature of the Imagination in Mexico» (2013)
- «Three Flashes» (Nagari, 2013)
- «The Waterfall» (Kenyon Review, 2014)
- «The Latin Cities» (Palabras Errantes, 2014)
- «Twenty About Robots» (Palabras Errantes, 2014)
- «Good People» (Palabras Errantes, 2016)
- «It All Makes Sense Here» (Latin American Literature Today, 2017)
- «The Savages» (Your Impossible Voice, 2017)
- «City X: a Novel in 101 tweets» (Latin American Literature Today, 2018)
- «On Latin American Speculative Fiction» (Latin American Literature Today, 2018)
- «Art» (The Dark, 2018)
- «A Periodic Table of Books» (World Literature Today, 2018)
- «Parasitism» (Fireside, 2019)
- «The Grand Experiment» (World Literature Today, 2019)
- French – Français
Short stories in anthologies and print magazines
- «Variation on a Theme by Coleridge» in Three Messages and a Warning (Small Beer Press, 2012)
- «Cold» in Unrepentant Times (Katakana/Nagari, 2017)
- «The Woman Who Walks Backwards» in Two Lines #31, 2019
- «Body» in An Invite to Eternity. Tales of Nature Disrupted (Calque Press, 2019)
- «Mogo» and «Table with Ocean» in The Big Book of Modern Fantasy (Vintage Anchor, 2020)