Young Jose Francisco grows up in Texas, determined to write about the border world - the immigrants and illegals, Mexican poverty and Yankee prosperity - stories to break the stand-off silence with a victory shout, to shatter at last the crystal frontier.
'Poor Mexico, so far from God, so close to the United States,' as its last pre-revolutionary president is said to have remarked. Nine interlinked stories centre on the border area, portraying those drawn to the towns on the Mexican side in hope of a better life, and those who cross the border in search of work. Fuentes is blatantly partisan; his Mexicans are nearly all good guys of one kind or another, while the gringos are small-minded racists with no discernible culture. He covers all levels of society, from the grotesquely rich to the pathetically poor, from a saintly lady's maid who teaches her employer a thing or two about humanity, to a low-down philandering assassin with a fake mobile phone. Fuentes's portrait of Mexico is up to the minute, and consistently entertaining. (Kirkus UK)