Las tierras arrasadas
Emiliano Monge

NOVEL | 2015 | 352 pages


In the depths of the forest and of the night, car lights turn on and a group of immigrants are attacked by another group of men and women, and left hostage to the homeland they live in and their own stories. This is how this road novel begins, crossing through a nation where humans are reduced to smuggled goods, where violence is the stage where all the stories take place and where Emiliano Monge pierces into the essence of a savage Latin America. Through the kidnappers and the massive bundle of immigrants whose individuality falls into pieces, Monge leaves horror and solitude bare, and also the loyalty and hope that beat in the human heart. Las tierras arrasadas ambitiously tells the holocaust of the 21st century but also a love story between Estela and Epitafio, leaders of the group of kidnappers. A story of high stylistic voltage and shuddering pace, where fiction and reality – testimonies of immigrants who make up the interludes in the novel – weave an unexpected mosaic that is moving, disturbing and impossible to forget.


I am sure that there is no piece of journalism that honors the voices of the migrants as much as this novel does. A writing that confronts. Poetry in the carrion.
— Lydia Cacho
Reading Emiliano Monge is tuning in to a secret poetry. This novel is the paradigm of a new narrative—cathartic, direct, vital, without beating around the bush.
— Berna González Harbour, Babelia
A painful and fatal chant, Las tierras arrasadas magnificently sheds light on the thousands of nameless immigrants cast on the roads. Chilling and brutal, [the book] is a compendium of humanity in search for a better life.
— Ariane Singer, Le Monde
Monge followed the track of the kidnapped, tortured and assassinated migrants, with enough compassion as to allow them to talk, or rather moan, without refusing the other truth, the one that sets the novelist apart from the journalist. Assuming that Evil is human, the author narrates not so much the back-and-forths of the victims, dead or alive, whose souls have been torn away, but of the kidnappers, traffickers of human beings, a man and woman willing to suffer through a tragic love story while they kill. In the sea of books I have read about the hell endured by migrants, about the fierce Mexico that they cross amidst of the narco wars, I suspect that Las tierras arrasadas is one that will survive.
— Christopher Domínguez Michael, El Universal
In an odyssey of relentless human cruelty, Emiliano Monge, one of the many linguistically adroit writers currently at work in what is an exciting era for Mexican fiction, spares no one. That he can succeed in generating any sympathy for his frenetic lovers is entirely due to the ferocious eloquence of his prose, which has been magnificently well served by translator Frank Wynne’s Miltonic register. Filtered through a wry, if urgent, continuous present tense, it conveys the inhumanity of the jungle and desert landscapes … Monge’s realist, deadly topical fiction is a weighty metaphor for our world gone mad. His characters, however depraved, often reveal traces of empathy, self-doubt, even suppressed horror.
— Eileen Battersby, The Observer
From the very first pages of Among the Lost, we’re engaged, and compromised … It’s a heady reading experience … Richly poetic … Monge is one of the most talented and interesting young novelists writing from today’s Mexico.
— Daniel Hahn, Spectator
With its propulsive, lyrical, and often savage present-tense narrative, Among the Lost achieves a … relentless pitch … In Monge’s hell, the suffering is of Dantean cruelty.
— Ellie Robins, Times Literary Supplement
The triumph of Among the Lost is its depiction of human suffering. In an innovative technique that again bears vague resemblance to Joyce, Monge intersperses his narrative with direct emotive accounts from migrants and asylum-seekers. Some of these passages are difficult to read. They are loaded with pathos and sentiment and are important emblems of truths amid the violence and moral corruption throughout novel: ‘This was where they first used their weapons… those who were still standing crumpled… pushing, scrabbling and jostling… desperate to be at the bottom of the heap… No one wanted to be left on top.’ Monge exposes these truths in stories that are not easy to shirk away from, with remarkable linguistic skill. An important read.
— Ronan Gerrard, The London Magazine

BY EMILIANO MONGE: No contar todo NOVEL, 2018 La superficie más honda SHORT STORIES, 2017 Las tierras arrasadas NOVEL, 2015 Los insectos invisibles CHILDREN'S, 2013 El cielo árido NOVEL, 2012 Morirse de memoria NOVEL, 2009 Arrastrar esa sombra SHORT STORIES, 2008