By Daniel Sada
Graywolf Press, $16.00, 334 pages
Almost Never, originally published in Spanish in 2008 as Casi Nunca comes out in English translation for the first time this April. The late Daniel Sada is a well-known Mexican poet, journalist, and novelist; he was the 2008 winner of the Herralde Prize and held the position of professor at the Autonomous University of Zacatecas. Just hours before his death, he was awarded the National Prize for Arts and Sciences for Literature.
Almost Never is set in rural, postwar Mexico in 1945. Demetrio Sordo, Sada’s protagonist, is a young, successful agronomist in the small town of Presunción. When he visits a local bordello to cure his boredom, he falls in love with Mireya, a young and spirited prostitute, however, when he visits his mother in Parras, he also falls in love with the beautiful, virginal Renata Melgarejo.
An internal conflict unfolds as Demetrio, no saint, attempts to navigate society’s moral constraints in order to satiate his sexual appetite. He must choose between the women he loves, and the situation is quickly complicated by Mireya’s unexpected pregnancy. Ultimately, this sometimes humorous, sometimes frustrating plot, combined with Sada’s free-indirect discourse narration, is a candid portrayal of the machismo stereotype.
Reviewed by Emily Davis