Review of Mexico by Josh Barkan

I’m not usually drawn to collections of short stories however, after my local Barnes and Noble rearranged the ENTIRE fiction section, I made this rather rash book buying decision. Luckily, this ended up being one of the best decisions I’ve made. Mexico follows the stories of various characters who are simply living their lives and trying their best to avoid the violence surrounding the. Regardless of their best efforts to do the right thing and make the best lives for themselves, the violence manages to impact their decisions and day-to-day experiences.

The reason I usually steer clear of short story collections is because I feel as though they can be disjointed. Just as I feel connected to the characters in one story, it’s time to move onto the next one which I find very frustrating. Barkan, on the other hand, created a truly cohesive and moving collection of vignettes. He manages to transport the reader within each story with the strong, unique voices of each character and reaches a level a closure as the end of each one which allows for a seamless transition onto the next story. Furthermore, each story leaves the reader wrestling with the question of what really is the right thing to do in many of the circumstances each character faces, among other important questions about the human condition. Ultimately, the organic way in which Barkan captures how the violence from the cartels manages to snake its way into the lives of even the most innocent individuals is what makes this book so unique.

Mexico is a truly remarkable collection of short stories. I could not but this book down for the life of me because I was so moved by each characters story. Despite being a work of fiction, Mexico offers a refreshing perspective on what Mexican citizens are enduring in their day to day lives. If you’re looking for a book that no other collection of short stories will compare to, be sure to bump Barkan’s Mexico to the top of your reading list. You won’t regret it.

5 out of 5 stars

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