In the novel La Prueba del Ácido, Elmer Mendoza follows the struggles and persistence of Edgar “el Zurdo” Mendieta, a police officer, as he solves the murder of a table dancer, Mayra Cabral de Melo. When she is found dead, with a 9 mm bullet in her head, and a mutilated breast, the only clues Mendieta has are the testimony of the warehouse watchman (who saw only the shadow of the man and a dark car leaving the scene), and the tire tracks left behind by the killer.
Although many books have been written using a similar storyline, (Narcos, corruption and murders are common in many areas of México), Mr. Mendoza’s creativity in interweaving several suspects in the murder of Mayra make this an entertaining, gripping read.
This novel also has a strong appeal because it tells the story, through social narrative, of an entire country. In Mexico, unfortunately, violence and drugs have become part of everyday life. With La Prueba del Ácido, the author tells a story of real events and problems that occur on a daily basis in Sinaloa and many other parts of Mexico.
In my opinion, one of the key components that makes this novel suitable for translation is the way in which the author has taken the personalities, culture and characteristics of real people to make his story a true representation of the current situation. Readers will find many similarities between the police officers, politicians, and traffickers portrayed in the book, and those they have encountered in their own lives. The book describes very vividly how violent, impulsive, and arrogant both traffickers and politicians can be.
It describes the violence in Mexico as we hear it in the news or from relatives living back home. At the same time, it also shows the caring and human side of people in all levels of society, including some drug traffickers. I believe the subject-matter Mr. Mendoza has chosen makes this book a solid candidate for translation, publishing, and sale in the U.S. market.
The writing style may be hard to follow for some readers. As he mentioned in his presentation at CASAMERICA in early 2011, Mr. Mendoza uses the popular language of Mexico, which is unusual in Mexican literature. This could be good or bad, depending on how one looks at it. The positive aspect of the language in this book is that it may be able to reach a broader audience. The negative aspect is the nontraditional “stream of consciousness” style that many people may not be used to reading.
However, I enjoyed exploring a writing style I am not accustomed to. I struggled at the beginning, but after a few pages, I had to force myself to put the book down in order to go about my daily responsibilities.
As in his other books, the author’s life experiences growing up in Sinaloa shape the narrative, storyline, and ideas that he combines to create this intricate, intriguing, and relevant social novel. His theme in this and his other novels is also a growing literary theme in the U.S. One thing that makes La Prueba del Ácido a good candidate for translation is Mr. Mendoza’s unique writing style and his creativity in combining a complex social commentary with his own life experiences.
I do believe that using everyday language will be a great asset in publishing the book in the United States. This will appeal to a broader audience. His books have also been well-received in other countries, such as Germany and Italy, where they have been translated into their respective languages.
Overall, I enjoyed Elmer Mendoza’s La Prueba del Ácido, and just as other readers, I want to read more stories about Edgar “El Zurdo” Mendieta. After all, we all need a hero who will give us hope for a better life, and will do anything he can to minimize the impact that violence, drug trafficking and government corruption have on a country and its people.