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Mundo Cruel

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Written by Luis NegronAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Luis Negron
Translated by Suzanne Jill LevineAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Suzanne Jill Levine

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List Price: $13.95

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On Sale: March 12, 2013
Pages: 128 | ISBN: 978-1-60980-419-0
Published by : Seven Stories Press Seven Stories Press
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Luis Negrón’s debut collection reveals the intimate world of a small community in Puerto Rico joined together by its transgressive sexuality. The writing straddles the shifting line between pure, unadorned storytelling and satire, exploring the sometimes hilarious and sometimes heartbreaking nature of survival in a decidedly cruel world.

Excerpt

The Chosen One

Ever since I was little I’ve heard my mother tell the story, more than once, that when they presented me at church, barely forty days old, the preacher predicted that I would not be like other boys, that every step I took would be a step toward Jehovah. I grew up with the certainty of being anointed.

My brothers and father were opposed to this idea. Papi swore to my mother that they weren’t bringing me up right, that all the church and religion was going to ruin me. My brothers, backed by Papi, never went to church. They made sure I had something to talk about in Bible class when we’d discuss Job and his trials. They’d hide my Bible and my neckties. They’d spray me with the hose minutes before the bus arrived to take Mami and me to worship. If I cried, Papi would make me fight them and would shout at me:

"Defend yourself like a man, goddamn it!"

I felt comfortable at church. They’d take me from town to town as a child preacher. The adults would ask my advice; the women would beg me for visions. One night during a vigil, I went out to the bathroom. The only light outside was the one on the toilet. When I entered, I heard a noise and as I approached the urinal stall I saw sister Paca’s son doing brother Pabón’s son from behind.

At that moment I had my first true revelation. My whole body was telling me that I wanted to be in the place where brother Pabón’s son was. When they noticed me they got scared, but I was able to calm them down when I started to lower my pants. I wasn’t able to touch them, though, because at that very same moment brother Samuel came in and caught us.

The news reached Papi through my brothers, who were eager for the beating that would follow. With the eyes of a Pharisee, while Mami turned up the volume on the radio that was playing the evangelical station, Papi grabbed my whole face with one hand and crushed it like a ball of paper in his fist. He took off his belt and whipped my back. When he saw that I wasn’t crying, that I didn’t make a peep, he whipped my face with the buckle until the little choir on the radio stopped singing. He left both of my eyes swollen and my nose broken. After the swelling went down my face was transformed. It looked like the faces of the saints in those little prayer cards my grandmother, the Catholic, kept in her house. For the other boys it was irresistible. They all wanted to be my boyfriend.

The preacher’s son gave me an illustrated Bible on Valentine’s Day. I liked to look at the pictures: Adam covered with a big fig leaf, ashamed to notice his private parts for the first time, and me with him; Lot’s wife turned to salt, looking toward the burning city because you just had to; David’s torso, strong and magnificent; Goliath’s legs, with him being a giant and all, my imagination soared.

My father decided to go to church too to see if he could change me by force of prayer. He was tired of giving me beatings every time he caught me making out with a male cousin or walked in on me when I was modeling in front of the family mirror. He’d drag me out of the bathroom at the supermarket where I’d hook up with meat packers. He’d slap me hard or punch me with his clenched fist, and I just took it. Beatings with leather belts, belt buckles, flip-flops, wooden switches from tamarind or gandules trees that my grandmother sent from Arroyo, or pulled off the lemon tree that we had in the yard. I hated the lemon tree. One time my brothers and I claimed we had seen the Virgin appear on top of it. The news upset Mami and, fearing that the house would be filled with Catholics, she cut it down and there were no more switches.

When I turned fifteen it was my turn to be baptized. I didn’t let Mami buy my outfit at Barrio Obrero. I made her give me the money and I went to the mall instead. The clothes had to be white. I bought a pair of linen trousers and combined them with a white guayabera shirt and leather women’s sandals that really looked like they were for men. Nobody would notice the difference.

I took the bus and felt happy when I saw the driver. “Thank you, Father,” I said to the Almighty. We already knew each other. Every once in a while he called me and waited for me at Parada 20 to take me to a motel on Highway 1. I sat where he could see me through the rear view mirror and where I could see him perfectly. He told me, when I was about to get off, to go to the end of the route with him, that it was his last trip for the day. From there he took me to a motel in Caguas.

Since we got out early I decided to run by the house to leave the bag of clothes I bought before going to church, where there was a fritter sale going on to raise money. When I got home, there was the preacher’s son. He had come to find out why I hadn’t gone to church. Nobody was home and I invited him in while I took a bath. He came in, nervously. I took him to my room. He sat on my bed and I stripped naked in front of him to go into the bathroom. I let the water run before getting in so it could get hot. I hated cold water. When I got in, the preacher’s son stripped naked and got in with me.

Afterward he went off to church and I stayed home. I called Mami to tell her I was staying home and to bring me fritters. Two and a diet coke. Mami said she’d be back much later since they had to take a sister to Humacao and that was far away. I went out on the balcony and started to smoke a cigarette.

I learned to smoke with a Christian singer who once played a show at my church. When I noticed him he was flirting with a group of young sisters, talking about the Word. I watched him from afar and noticed how he got distracted whenever he looked at me. He didn’t take his eyes off me while he sang a Christian bachata and read a psalm. When the concert was over he greeted me with a trembling voice.

"Do you sing?" he asked.

"A little."
 
He invited me to join his choir. I gave him my number, but before that he spoke with my parents and told them that being in the choir was a good service, a special calling. The preacher agreed and my parents gave me permission.

I was on tour for a whole summer and all that summer we were lovers. He loved me in an obsessive way. When he’d light a cigarette he’d give me one and I’ve smoked ever since, secretly and all the time. He’d say the smoke made his voice hoarse and that that turned on the sisters. He’d tell me that when he crossed over to worldly music he was going to take me with him so we could live together. We’d make love every night and sometimes in the morning. But I got tired of my calling and went back home.

While I was finishing my cigarette sister Dalia’s husband was walking by. He works in Acueductos and has strayed from the Word.

"That’s bad for you," he said to me, and stopped, not before looking around on all sides. "Are you all alone?"

"Yes."

"You always seem so quiet and I’m surprised to see you smoking. Maybe you ain’t such a little saint after all."

In Mami’s room—to keep an eye out through the window—he pulled me by the hair and possessed me, salivating and telling me how delicious it was to do it with me. When we finished, sister Dalia’s husband left. I lay down, picked up the Bible the preacher’s son had given me, and read a psalm to put myself to sleep. The next day was my baptism.

Mami was furious when she saw the sandals before we started out for the baptism in the Yunque. "You look like a damn fag," she said to me. "You’re not going anywhere dressed like that." I didn’t change. She hit me in the face with the tambourine, she pulled my hair and kept slapping me but I didn’t change. I was going to the baptism in that outfit. After she got tired of beating me, she said to me: "You’re the one they’re going to call fag."

Once we got there, Mami grabbed her Bible and left me. I went over to sister Evelyn, who was in charge, and signed in. Then I walked toward a place a little farther away, where the church buses were parked. I sat on a rock, still swollen from Mami’s beating. I looked at the sky and told God I needed to talk to him. God spoke to me with a voice that came down from heaven but that I felt right in my ear. "Thou art proud and of a mind that thou canst do whatever thou wouldst." "But Father," I said to him, "if I’m a chosen one and I can’t do what I want, what’s the point? Besides, forgive me, as you are God, but I remind you that I also have free will." He fell silent, but I listened to him think.

"It’s up to you," he finally said. "Go thou with my blessing." 

I was satisfied when the meeting ended. I had made my point. From the rock I saw one of the bus drivers sitting in his driver’s seat, looking at me. He gestured for me to come over. I climbed into the bus and he had already pulled it out of his pants. We continued in the last row. I liked him because he talked dirty and, grabbing my face amid all those dirty words, he said he’d never seen anything like it. I left the bus in a sweat, dying for the baptism to start so I could cool myself off in the water.

I got in line and they gave me a candle. Papi, who had gone earlier to help the pastor set up, was with Mami. They watched from the riverbank with desperate looks on their faces. They wanted them to put me under the water already to see if the Holy Spirit would enter and change me. I was the third in line and soon it was my turn.

The pastor looked at me with that prophet-look he knew how to put on. I saw him look at me with anger and then his eyes saw my slutty face. Full of pleasure upon seeing me look at him that way, he revealed his rage to me. I saw his dark thick body through his damp white clothes. I saw the hairs on his wet arms, close to his skin. I saw that he saw that I saw what he saw. I saw through his white pants how inside his white cotton jockey shorts, he grew large. I saw the brothers on the shore fascinated with my beauty, looking at me. I saw Papi’s face in the distance, looking at me look. This boy is a monster, his face said. I saw Mami look at my monstrosity in Papi’s face. I turned my back on my father and my mother and looked again at that thing that was already curving over the preacher’s thigh when he immersed me in the water.

The sound of the water pressed against my ears. Among the rocks there was a beer can. Some river shrimp clung to an old tennis shoe. I saw the preacher’s feet in his blue rubber flip-flops. Then he took me out of the water and held me for a second in his arms. “You are clean,” he said to me, and winked.

A while later, when they were taking photos of me with my parents, he announced that I would go back with him, alone to the church, because we had things to talk about. My parents gave me permission.

He couldn’t wait until we got to a motel: he made me touch him on the way there. I caressed it and looked at it (identical to his son’s).

"I felt something divine," he confessed still exhausted on the bed. "You’re a mystery to me."

He hugged me and cried. He took me in his arms like the day of his prophecy and told me that he loved me. I promised to love him forever and to go live with him in Orlando and to found a church there, but I didn’t want him to take me home in his car. I asked him to leave me near the church. I wanted to be alone for a while and clear my head a little. And feel the cool night air on my face. And why not see besides if I might find some guy on the way home. Then I’d lie down, read a psalm, and fall straight to sleep.
Luis Negron|Suzanne Jill Levine|Author Q&A

About Luis Negron

Luis Negron - Mundo Cruel

Photo © Eny Roland Hernández

LUIS NEGRÓN was born in the city of Guayama, Puerto Rico, in 1970. He is co-editor of Los otros cuerpos, an anthology of queer writing from Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican diaspora. The original Spanish language edition ofMundo Cruel, first published in Puerto Rico in 2010 by La Secta de Los Perros, then by Libros AC in subsequent editions, is now in its third printing. It has never before appeared in English Negrón lives in Santurce, Puerto Rico.

About Suzanne Jill Levine

Suzanne Jill Levine - Mundo Cruel
SUZANNE JILL LEVINE's many translations include the works of Guillermo Cabrera Infante and Manuel Puig. She is the editor of the Penguin Classics Jorge Luis Borges series and author of The Subversive Scribe: Translating Latin American Fiction. She is winner of the 2012 the PEN Center USA Literary Award for her translation of José Donoso’s The Lizard’s Tale.

Author Q&A

What was your road to writing?
 
I studied journalism because I wanted to learn how to write better. I never wanted to work in a newspaper though. Sometimes young students come to me and ask what should I study. Literature? Comparative studies? I tell them to just take one course at the journalism school, to see how they like it. Journalism teaches you how to be humble and honest. But of course they never follow my advice.
 
You’re a star now. What does that feel like? How is the tour going?
 
I am a bookseller; I work in a bookstore. I know how important it is for publishers to sell their books. I will do whatever I have to do to help them to sell books. And that’s why I’m here. As a writer, fame doesn’t help you. The page is always going to be blank. You’re going to have be with yourself. But, yes, the fame is also intimidating. People are looking for you to screw up with your next book.
 
Isn’t that scary?
 
I’m not scared. Again, I studied journalism so I have the confidence. What’s important is that this is the book I wrote. This is the book I presented. I am confident in it. Some people are going to like it and some people aren’t.
 
Can you talk about Mundo Cruel within the Latin American book market?
 
Publishing a Puerto Rican book almost never happens. It is very difficult to find a publisher who wants to publish a Puerto Rican author. Puerto Rican Literature isn’t even published in other Latin American counties because they don’t get us. They think we’re like Hawaii or something. Like they think we’re always on the ocean, barefoot drinking coconuts. Some of them think we speak English, but we don’t. Spanish is our language. Our literature is in Spanish. Our schools are in Spanish. For some reason,. Mundo Cruel is very popular in Costa Rica and Guatemala. And now they’re going to publish it in Cuba too! I just came back from there actually.
 
What about the other countries you’ve been to? What’s Cuba like?
 
Cuba is a beautiful place. Very safe. You can walk anywhere you want. People are really sweet and nice. And they’re not very political. Just like here. People here don’t talk about politics all day. People are people. They talk about love, they talk about life. The story that they tell you in Cuba is not about when Fidel came. They’re just doing what everybody does: trying to survive. Mexico is a great country. As great as the US. It has a huge personality. I went to the book fair there and it was amazing. The amount of people who go to that book fair is crazy. The same thing happened in Guatemala. The room was full of people. When I walked in I thought, Do they know what the book is about? I don’t want to read these stories. Can I even say that I’m gay? But they knew who I was. They knew what the book was about. They just loved books. Some people showed up with a piece of paper for me to sign because they couldn’t afford the book. I wanted to buy the book for them! But I’m poor too.
 
You share more than a translator with Manuel Puig. There’s a united sense of melodrama, of pop culture adoration, of the Telenovela.
 
People watch Telenovela to see happiness come true. I don’t know how much Telenovela you’ve watched, but there’s always something bad happening to the main character, like Oedipus with the gods in Olympus. Something is always happening that needs to get resolved. The promise of happiness is what keeps you watching for nine months, Monday through Friday. I once took a Telenovela class and the professor always reminded us that no matter how creative you are, there has to be a happy ending. And I like happy endings.
 
There’s not many stories nowadays with happy endings.
 
I think my stories have happy endings. For example, in “The Chosen One,” the main character is happy from the start. Nothing is going to destroy him.
 
That’s what’s so great about “The Chosen One.” Within the stereotype of the Catholic Church, especially with the idea of priests taking advantage of young boys, the main character subverts the role of victim. He enjoys himself. He has fun. He wants what would under religious and/or heterosexual ideology be pegged as immoral. He has all the power. He is not the victim.
 
None of my characters are victims. A friend of mine said that the world in my books is already gay. It’s taken for granted. That’s what I see and how I feel. We are who we are. But, in like, “Mundo Cruel,” people say that I’m showing a world where gay people don’t want liberation. I’m not saying that. Everyone except one character wants gay liberation. Everyone in that story is so happy the world finally accepted homosexuality.
 
Is there a pressure to represent queer culture to the full extent of the spectrum?
 
Yeah. I remember this guy who said my book was a little homophobic because my characters are “pathetic” and don’t represent how good we’re doing. I was like, I’m not an activist. I’m a writer. I believe in gay rights. But also, I’m not going to wait for someone to give me permission to be who I am. We’ve learned how to survive and be happy no matter what. That is the kind of gay people I grew up with. The types of gay people who would never go to a rally. They’d go to a Pride parade, sure. But they always felt that rallies were not for them, that they didn’t fit the stereotype of political activist. I mean, what’s wrong with sissies? Sissy is a beautiful way to be a human being. Llike in “The Vampire of Moca,” I love the fact that there’s this queen who’s falling in love with this twenty-something 7-11 employee and she takes him home and takes care of him and they have this platonic relationship and she’s happy, even though you know he’ll probably leave her for another woman. Happiness is not forever. Or, you have to reinvent happiness. We suffer and then we move on and it repeats. That’s the story I really like to tell.
 
What was the last story you wrote for the collection?
 
The last one I wrote was “Botella.”
 
Which is a sad story.
 
It is. But this is something I wanted to do. At that moment, people were saying really bad things about being macho. My brother is a macho. That’s how he was raised. He doesn’t know how to live a different way. I wanted to show that sometimes in life you’re trapped and there’s no way out for you. With that story, I wanted to show a heart in a macho. It breaks my own heart actually. Especially the ending.
 
Where he smells like shit.
 
No matter how much he washes, even in the ocean, he can’t get away from smelling like shit. Do you ever you recreate a setting when you’re writing?
 
Sure.
 
For some reason it was my house in “Botella.”
 
The house where the guy hangs himself is your house?
 
No, the house where the guy is murdered.
 
Oh, the second guy who dies.
 
Yes. I mean no. No, no. The first one.
 
I thought he hanged himself.
 
No, no, no, no. Someone else hanged him. That’s why the main character is trying to hide. He knows it’s not enough to be innocent or guilty because society is going to make you guilty. That’s why he’s trying to cover up everything.
 
I love when he tries to wipe away his fingerprints from the dead man’s hair before he realizes how stupid that thought is. It’s such a smart detail.
 
That story was really hard. I wrote it all in the first draft. Almost.
 
That blows my mind because “Botella” is full of metaphorical continuity. I mean, a simple example is how both the main character and Caneca, the dead man, have these irremovable smells, one a feces smell, the other a rum smell. Or how quickly the action escalates without being unnatural. It reminded me a lot of Hubert Selby, Jr.
 
I wanted to show how humanity is in everyone. Even in that person who in the gay community is a monster. Even there, there is a human being.
 
Which translates well to “The Garden.” If you were Carver, or a Carver MFA knock-off, “The Garden” would have finished two paragraphs early with a nice vague allusion to death via The Sound of Music ending on the TV. But instead, and what I loved, was that you kept going all the way to Willie’s funeral.
 
I put it there because I wanted the melodrama. The narrator is melodramatic. Willie is a gay guy who went to Columbia and lived in New York, living through the sexual revolution. He’s very secure about his sexuality. He knows about queer theory and all that stuff. And then there’s this kid who likes Willie because Willie represents that way of being gay. Nestito didn’t know it was possible before Willie. And Willie makes fun of him because Nestito likes Love Story. I like Love Story too! I love it! That and The Sound of Music.
 
So were you making fun of yourself too?
 
Yes, but also, I wanted to put these two ways of being gay together within this isolation. No one comes to the house. Because of Willie’s sickness. They’re the only ones there, and maybe that itself could be a very sad story. But they have their own world. Even Willie, his sickness, that’s why they call it “The Garden,” with all the fungus on his body. His way of life is different. When I think about that story, I see myself in all of the characters. I can be Sharon [Willie’s sister]. I can be very playful and naïve. But she’s also very smart and has a secret lover.
 
Are you a Pisces? [Sharon is a Pisces]
 
 (Laughing) Yes.
 
(Laughing)And your rising sign is Pisces? [Sharon’s rising sign is also Pisces]
 
(More laughing) Yes. She’s a mess.
 
But she can deal with the messes.
 
Yes, yes. She’s there. She’s making sure that everyone is happy. I love the part where she makes up the story of the Chinese mafia kidnapping her. And that’s something from like a Barbra Streisand movie or something. One of the good ones. It’s a way of showing my love for that kind of movie. Not the perfect movie. I mean I like the perfect movies, but for me I like the other ones, like Love Story or Hello, Dolly! orYentl. For me, Yentl was the first gay movie of my life. I had no idea two men could love each other. I remember feeling very angry as a child because I would fall in love with my friends from school and then they would go for the girls. I felt like there was something wrong with me. Something really wrong. Or something missing. That I was always going to be left out from life.
 
Have you ever tried to write poetry?
 
No. I mean, I try. For lovers. But they don’t know anything about literature so I can get away with it.
 
The funny thing about Puig is that he never liked to talk about literature. What are your feelings on that conversation. Do you like talking books?
 
I do. But, at work I have to. Though even then I usually tell the story behind the story. Oh, this writer did this and this or had an affair with so and so.
 
There’s a way people talk about literature that almost sucks out all of the pleasure of reading.
 
Exactly. It becomes a ping-pong match. What do you know? I read for pleasure. I read Carver but I also read Allende, who I read when I was twenty-something.
 
I had the same affection for Stephen King. I can’t go into a college lit class and say, “I like Stephen King.”
 
Why not? You can find inspiration in anything. People ask me what are your major influences, and I say the radio. I love to listen to baseball games. It’s amazing the way they can narrate something you’re not seeing. You get nervous as a listener. You can picture the ball park. I love to listen.
 
I like when books have pop culture like radio. The characters obviously listen to songs in their cars, go to the movies on the weekends.
 
That’s why I like melodrama, which is pretty poppy. For me, melodrama is created to suffer, even if there is a happy ending. Melodrama is a way of faking pain. That’s something I really like. I’m a drama queen.
 
So you fake pain a lot? Or is it more like tapping into an emotion.
 
When I come home drunk from the bar, empty-handed I always play Audrey Hepburn singing  “Moon River” in order to feel worse about myself. You have to embrace whatever you’re feeling. You have to be honest with your feelings. There’s nothing wrong with contradictions. We are human; we are made of contradictions.
 
But people want to change you. Being sad is scary for someone not sad. They want to make you feel better.
 
People don’t want to be sad anymore. But it’s part of human nature: You’re going to be sad. Someone dies and they don’t want you to cry. Of course you have to cry! You have to cry a lot. As much as you can because that’s what we do. I tell young writers they have to live. Writing is not all about books. It’s about being immersed in the world around you. Some writers can be away from the world. But I’m not that kind of writer. Someone told me once, you have to behave more like a writer.
 
What does that even mean?
 
(Shrugs) You know, I remember one day I met this very important gay writer. All my friends were impressed. What did you talk about, they asked. I said we talked about men. That was it. Not books. You go to a book fair and you see people talking about Borges and Faulkner and the other big names. That’s okay because that’s their thing. But there are others, writers who are wondering where’s the closest bar? You know Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Mario Vargas Llosa? Vargas Llosa is known as the intellectual writer. The correct writer. The perfect writer. He would talk about Tolstoy and Flaubert and what’s wrong with fiction. And then you have Garcia Marquez who liked to get drunk. If you tried to talk to him about literature, he’d change the subject. I studied journalism. You don’t talk about theory, at least not literary theory. Journalism is about paying attention and being honest. I got invited to a writing program to give a talk and all I’m thinking is the students probably know more about literature than me, you know. But I went anyway. I was there to talk about my book. Not about all the other ones.
 
That must have been refreshing for them, though. I’m sure some students get burned out or overloaded on all this theory. The scientific part of writing.
 
When you start talking about movies and melodramas and Telenovelas, some of them are like, Who is this? He’s not a writer. I write the way I can and the way I want. I don’t try to write in a way I can’t or don’t want. I don’t want to be the next Bolaño or Borges or Corteza. I want to be like Manuel Puig. I don’t want to imitate his writing, but who he was. Everyone tells me he was just concerned about his family, and would become embarrassed when people tried to talk to him about literature. But look at him. He was really great. You have to write for you. For your own happiness.
 
I heard that you’re working on two new books. Do you always have multiple projects?
 
Yes. I don’t know which one is going to come out first, but I’m not worried about that. When it’s ready it’s ready. I really believe you should take your time with books. I know publishers want you to have a book every year, and some people can do that. But that’s not me. I need to write and then let it rest.
 
Do you write every day?
 
Almost every day. Unless I’m out clubbing the night before.

Praise | Awards

Praise

"Slender but never slight, and often extremely funny, the nine stories in this debut collection offer insight into both gay life in Puerto Rico and the human condition in general...the reader should be left both completely satisfied and wanting more."—Publishers Weekly

"Hilarious and heart-wrenching, provocative and pitch-perfect, each story is a tiny, transgressive explosion. I feel inadequate to the task of expressing just how wonderful this book is...read it slowly, and listen close; here is a master storyteller at his finest."—Justin Torres, author of We the Animals

“Negrón is perhaps the most intimate and unsuspected heir to Manuel Puig.”—Antonio Morato, author of Lima y Limón

“These nine stories are rude, beautiful, funny, tender, sarcastic but, above all, human.”—Guillermo Barquero, Sentencias inútiles

"Sharp and distinct voices guide the darkly witty stories in Luis Negron's debut short story collection, Mundo Cruel. Negron breaks open the chaotic lives of queens and lovers revolving in and around Santurce, Puerto Rico, through stories that resemble monologues driven by each character's strong personalities."—Los Angeles Review

“Like a cross between Manuel Puig and Luis Rafael Sánchez, the author of these stories shows us the tenderness, the love, and the bravery of those who decide to embrace their identity, whatever it happens to be.”—Margarita Pintado Burgos, Desvalijadas

"Negrón has a knack for portraying the insight and pathos that arise when old-school romantic, wounded souls collide. In nine short fictional monologues, he brilliantly depicts the campy queers, effeminate banter, and rough trade of Santurce, a low-rent neighborhood in San Juan. Negrón’s humor and heart put him in the canon of gay high satire headed by Manuel Puig, the author of Kiss of the Spider Woman..."—Out Magazine

“Luis Negrón is a very gifted storyteller, and one who is not afraid to steer straight into shameful and hurtful memories at top speed, confessing them with no fear or need of pity. “Mundo Cruel” will make you laugh and will make you cringe—but what would life be without its ups and downs?”—Charlie VazquezLatino Rebels

“Luis Negrón’s debut story collection, Mundo Cruel, is a study in verve, sass, and voice, peppered with a dash of spirituality. Short and sweet, this slim volume delivers its wisdom in one breakneck sprint through the cosmopolitan barrio of Santurce, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Negrón’s work has garnered comparisons to Manuel Puig, the late Argentine pop author best known for his novel Kiss of the Spider Woman. It’s an apt comparison. Like Puig, Negrón’s prose crackles with the voice of the street, constructing deep meaning out of absurdity and satire. But Negrón is his own writer.”—Lambda Literary Review

"Luis Negrón's amusing collection of short stories weave gritty, funny, and intimate tales from the eclectic island of Puerto Rico. The stories, while all so unique from each other, share an undercurrent of sexuality that provides a true air of authenticity; the real Puerto Rico, not the fortress-like resorts or tchotchke shops of Old San Juan."—The Advocate Hot Sheet

“Negron’s characters are so multidimensional that you almost believe it possible to reach into the pages of his tales and offer them some quick advice or stern words of warning. Perhaps the relatability they possess is the scariest part of these tales.”—Typographical Era

“In just 96 pages, Luis Negrón is satirical, heartwarming, heartbreaking and laugh-out-loud funny. His collection of short fictional stories, Mundo Cruel, is gay fiction at its best.”—The Daily Texan

“Negron's deft touch is humane, warm, and funny. Using economical, vivid prose, he makes a compelling case that assimilation isn't for all, and that those outside the mainstream are worthy of respect.”—The Bay Area Reporter

"Mundo Cruel might be a quick read, yet this is the type of book whose characters will linger in your imagination—it might take some effort to shake them off. Negrón is an incredibly gifted writer whose vivid prose, diverse writing style, and humor makes reading this book a true joy."—Three Percent

 “Negrón trusts his readers and their desire for an expanded worldview, and he delivers on this trust by showing incredible attention to detail and by compelling each voice within his stories to speak to readers’ capacity for compassion and critical thought.”—Portland Book Review 

“All nine of the stories brilliantly convey the strangeness and the tenderness of being human and, at 82 pages, the collection is easily finished in a single sitting. Despite its brevity, you’ll be thinking about it long after you close the book.” —Akashic

"[...] one of those books that's translation captured the depths of its essence. Mundo Cruel was a shocking, provocative compilation of nine stories that's narrative was bold, engaging yet raised eyebrows. The characters were distinctive and easy to read [...] you will experience writing at it most intimate and purest form without filter."—What is This Book About Blog

Awards

FINALIST 2014 Lambda Literary Award

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