No contar todo
Emiliano Monge

NOVEL | 2018 | 392 pages

This is a story about the need to escape from the others and from oneself; about abandonment, love and chauvinism; about what is said, what is insinuated as well as what is not said; about lies and the different forms of violence that we experiment as we become who we are.

No contar todo, a “non-fiction novel”, introduces us to the Monge family, in particular three of its men—the grandfather, the father and the son—all while telling the story of contemporary Mexico. The grandfather, Carlos Monge McKey, whose parents were Irish, fakes his own death while blowing up his brother-in-law’s quarry. The father, Carlos Monge Sánchez, breaks with his family and his own history to move to Guerrero, where he becomes a guerrilla fighter who fights alongside Genaro Vázquez, a prominent guerrilla leader. The son, Emiliano Monge García, is born ill and will spend the first five years of his life in and out of hospitals, for which he will be considered “the weak one” and will chose to live in a web of fictions and lies that with the passing of time, will become increasingly complex and from which he will not be able to escape unless he escapes from it all.


Emiliano Monge chose to embrace his deceased ancestors and their deaths, to narrate them with all the virtuosity and ambition with which novels used to be invented. The result is a stunning game of personal lights and shadows that constitute an unambiguous, raw fresco of the history of Mexico. It is also a story of lonely men and lonely fathers who face, in their own unusual way, the obligations of their inheritance.
— Rafael Gumucio, El País
Emiliano Monge’s new novel, No contar todo, recounts his grandfather’s history, how it’s linked to his father’s, and how both stories of course converge in Monge’s own life—three replicas of the same Teutonic phenomenon that each serve to explore three different areas. Namely: Mexico and the naturalization of “male violence”; the Monge family’s fascination with the abyss, as well as the silent mark that fascination leaves on others; and Emiliano Monge’s heritage and biography… No contar todo puts all of these elements into play through an impressive technical display, which consolidates into an achievement that is ever so rare in contemporary literature: the realistic creation of three distinct voices that are completely recognizable. Monge is skilled: we meet Carlos Monge McKey through the pages of a diary written in the first person, Carlos Monge Sánchez addresses his son in a direct second person that is shamelessly Mexican and conversational, while in order to talk about himself the author employs a distant third person that contributes to the creation of some of the least indulgent autobiographical passages I’ve read in recent times. “Nothing mattered as much as the recent discovery that one can reject one’s past and begin, all at once, to be different,” we read in No contar todo, and it is in that moment that we understand the root of a universal conflict—one that makes individuals attempt to construct themselves in the face of their heritage, often without remarkable success.
— Nadal Suau, El Cultural
Emiliano Monge has the immense literary virtue of not claiming to be a genius, and he instead narrates the story he needed to tell in a noble and efficient manner that is at once intense and elegant.
— Juan Marqués, El Mundo
A novel like No contar todo by Emiliano Monge make us reconsider genres and our ideas about the novel. However, its long breath and the occasional grandiloquence with which he tells, analyzes and scrutinizes the relationship between three generations of men with the same name Monge (his grandfather his father and himself) is something that reminds us of the exuberance of the “Total Novel.” This ability to rise from the purely prosaic to the splendid is not new in his work. Already his former books showed a huge formal ambition and the ability to achieve, at times with just a few strokes, a literary discourse of important social echoes. Even in the twists and turns of a very personal novel like this one, Monge is a sharp observer of the society and times in which his narrative unfolds, as well as a critic with a point of view focused on social reflection… It seems to me that the triumph of a novel like No contar todo is that Emiliano Monge does not just settle accounts with family history and the patriarchal lineage of his past but also with the narrative traditions in front of which his prose is built.
— Antonio Ortuño, Revista UNAM
The final result is that the novel approaches and plays with the convex and the concave, a spectacular game in which a story that is fragmented, broken, kaleidoscopic, crushed, and turned to dust becomes, who knows why, an imagined life with Faulkner’s tragic sensibility and Beckett’s relentless grief. And don’t be surprised if the book strikes you like an ancient wound. The strings Monge pulls upon are ancient and come from far away: memory, pain, and death.
— Ricardo Baixeras, El Periódico
In No contar todo, the novel isn’t about exhausting all the registries of a life in one or two mottos, but about postponing, illuminating a few portions of it, making us believe that what is being read can take on the appearance of truth… Bloody Emiliano Monge, No contar todo is the novel I would have wanted to write.
— Roberto Pliego, Milenio
Emiliano Monge’s most ambitious and valuable novel in literary, social and personal terms.
— Arístegui Noticias
No contar todo is, most definitely, a journey through all the torments of a country, which have been overdiagnosed in many essays, but that clamors for the humanization its daily reality.
— Javier Lafuente, El País
Emiliano Monge’s greatest achievement in No contar todo, is definitely the form. It’s also a great story and, above all, a great story consists in how it is told. It’s also a great story and, above all, it can be destroyed in the way it is told… Emiliano Monge’s novel is able to translate that inexplicable pain. Through some streaks, passages, and the very stories with which the author knits the history. Somehow he is able to tell the pain that we have all felt, or that we are still feeling, without being aware of it and, at the same time, he does not tell everything, all while allowing the reader to actually feel the pain in his or herself.
— Lucía Treviño, SinEmbargo
Many readers will come to Monge’s books through No contar todo which is, seemingly, the easiest of his books. This might be the case when it comes to its style for in this novel, the author is more interested in testing the flexibility of memory than that of language. However, anyone who things No contar todo is an easy novel, is in for a surprise. In my opinion, this is his most complex work to date: it makes the reader laugh and cry in the same line.
— Paulette Jonguitud, Letras Libres

No contar todo
NOVEL, 2018
La superficie más honda
Las tierras arrasadas
NOVEL, 2015
Los insectos invisibles
El cielo árido
NOVEL, 2012
Morirse de memoria
NOVEL, 2009
Arrastrar esa sombra

No contar todo is, simply put, a fabulous book, almost 400 pages of true literature, of the kind that gushes with life and metaphors—because in books, when they’re good, life is always a metaphor.
— Alberto Olmos, El Confidencial
Emiliano Monge has left behind modesty and any derivatives in his latest book No contar todo, an exposed and integral work of literature in which he talks about his own life, his father’s, and his grandfather’s without any fuss. It all serves to unpack what it means to be a Monge and what sentence awaits him. Spoiler: in Mexico, from what we can see, wounded families are all alike, even when they each have their particular stories. His, for example, begins with his grandfather faking his own death…
— Bruno Pardo Porto, ABC