Mexican horror author Bernardo Esquinca presented his latest book Thursday, a novel titled “Carne de Ataúd” (Coffin Flesh), in the Mexico City Museum, located near the Zócalo. The book deals with the crimes commited by the so-called “Chalequero”, Francisco Guerrero Pérez, who between 1880 and 1888 killed approximately 20 prostitutes in Mexico City. The book was published by Mexican independent printing house Almadía.
Esquinca, born in Guadalajara in 1972, is a Mexican author of contemporary horror, supernatural fiction, suspense and the hard-boiled genre. Such genres are not very popular in Mexico, so the success of Esquinca is nearly unique. In a country where horror literature is disparaged by the critics, he has managed to gather a large following of faithful readers.
“Carne de Ataúd” is a thriller set in Mexico City during the time of President Porfirio Díaz’s government. It is the third novel in a series dealing with “nota roja” journalist Casasola and his encounters with supernatural threats. The novel concerns the birth of the “nota roja” journalism genre in Mexico. “Nota roja” is a journalism genre popular in Mexico. While similar to more general sensationalist or yellow journalism, the “nota roja” focuses almost exclusively on stories related to physical violence related to crime, accidents and natural disasters. The origin of the name is most likely related to the Mexican Inquisition, where a red stamp was placed on orders for execution or other punishments. By the 19th century, the term came to be used for violent crime, especially murder.
The author was accompanied by novelist Rafael Pérez Gay, who talked at length with Equinca about his book. “I have followed Esquinca’s trajectory since he started writing. I have read almost all of his books, and I think that Carne de Ataúd is a defining moment for his career,” said Pérez Gay.
Esquinca, regarding the creation of the novel, said that, “It was written without a clear plan. It was very clear to me what I wanted to talk about: The story of the Chalequero. His story is very interesting to me because I think that it signifies the heyday of Porfirio Diaz’s administration, and also its end. There are killers who represent certain times, and the Chalequero encapsulates Diaz’s time.”
“I don’t plan ahead too much when I write. I need a some spontaneity. I’m also kind of superstitious and don’t keep notes, so they become things that I repeat time and time again in my head so I don’t forget them. I need to just jump right into the novel. I feel that if I feel surprised about what I’m writing, then my readers will feel that too.” said Esquinca.
Esquinca added that his writing is very influenced by cinema, and that it seeps into his style, making it very vivid, almost like watching a movie.
The presentation ended with a book signing and courtesy pulque and mezcal.