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Carlos Fuentes: 1928—: Novelist , Essayist - Became Mexican Ambassador To France

Brief BiographiesBiographies: E(mily) R. Frank (1967-) Biography - Personal to Martha Graham (1893–1991) BiographyCarlos Fuentes: 1928—: Novelist , Essayist Biography - First Writings In English, Became Mexican Ambassador To France

Became Mexican Ambassador to France

Belatedly fulfulling his father's dream in the late 1970s, Fuentes went to Paris and served as Mexico's ambassador to France—writing novels in his head, he later recalled, as he attended to the bureaucratic details of the daily embassy routine. A slew of novels appeared when Fuentes returned to full-time writing. The most significant Fuentes novel of this period was probably The Old Gringo (El gringo viejo, 1985), which became the first Mexican work to appear on the New York Times bestseller list and was made into a successful film. That novel, as well as The Crystal Frontier (La frontera de cristal, 1995) took up as subject matter the border and the wider relationship between Mexico and the United States.

The author of more than 60 books—fiction, nonfiction, and even several plays—Fuentes hardly slowed down as he approached and then surpassed his 80th year. His notable works of the 1990s included the semi-autobiographical novel Diana, The Goddess Who Hunts Alone, depicting a romance between a Mexican writer and an American film star; Fuentes was at one time romantically linked with American actress Jean Seberg. Married twice, he made his home in the United States for much of the 1990s but was in reality a globetrotter. In 2001 Fuentes published the novel Inez's Instinct (Instinto de Inez), a work that returned to a poetic-romantic strain in his writing that had been partially submerged by his series of historical masterpieces.

Selected writings

La región más transparente, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1958, translation as Where the Air Is Clear, Ivan Obolensky, 1960.

Las buenas consciencias, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1959, translation as The Good Conscience, Ivan Oblensky, 1961.

La muerte de Artemio Cruz, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1962, translation as The Death of Artemio Cruz, Farrar, Straus, 1964.

Aura (novella), Era, 1962, reprinted, 1982, translation by Lysander Kemp, Farrar, Straus, 1965.

Zona sagrada, Siglo XXI, 1967, translation as Holy Place (also see below), Dutton, 1972.

Cambio de piel, Mortiz, 1967, translation as A Change of Skin, Farrar, Straus, 1968.

Cumpleaños, Mortiz, 1969, translation as Birthday.

Terra Nostra, Seix Barral, 1975, translation by Levine, Farrar, Straus, 1976.

La cabeza de hidra, Mortiz, 1978, translation as Hydra Head, Farrar, Straus, 1978.

Una familia lejana, Era, 1980, translation as Distant Relations, Farrar, Straus, 1982.

El gringo viejo, Fondo de Cultura Economica, 1985, translation as The Old Gringo, Farrar, Straus, 1985.

The Buried Mirror: Reflections on Spain in the New World (essays), Houghton Mifflin, 1992.

La naranja, translation as The Orange Tree, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1994.

Diana: The Goddess Who Hunts Alone, Farrar, Straus, 1995.

La frontera de cristal, Alfaguara, Mexico City, 1995, translation as The Crystal Frontier, 1997.

Los años con Laura Díaz, translation as The Years with Laura Diaz, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1999.

Instinto de Inez, Alfaguara, Mexico City, translation as Inez's Instinct, 2001.



Contemporary Literary Criticism, Gale, vol. 3, 1975; vol. 8, 1978; vol. 13, 1980,; vol. 22, 1982; vol 41., 1987.

Dictionary of Hispanic Biography, Gale, 1996.


America, May 11, 1996, p. 25.

Library Journal, August, 1997, p. 137; August 2001, p. S33.

New Statesman, July 17, 1998, p. 46.

Publishers Weekly, October 25, 1991, p. 42; March 23, 1992, p. 58; February 14, 1994, p. 58; September 18, 2000, p. 85.

UNESCO Courier, January 1992, p. 8.


Contemporary Authors Online. The Gale Group, 2001. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, MI: The Gale Group. 2001. (http://www.galenet.com/servlet/BioRC).

—James M. Manheim

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