Horacio Castellanos Moya

Horacio Castellanos Moya is a writer and a journalist from El Salvador. For two decades he worked as the editor of news agencies, magazines and newspapers in Mexico, Guatemala and his own country. He has published eleven novels, five short story collections and two essay collections. His novels have been translated into eleven languages; six of them (Revulsion: Thomas Bernhard in El Salvador, The Dream of My Return, Senselessness, The She-Devil in the Mirror, Dance with Snakes, and Tyrant Memory) are available in English. Currently he teaches creative writing and media in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Iowa.

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Revulsion: Thomas Bernhard in San Salvador

Fiction by Horacio Castellanos Moya

Translated from the Spanish by Lee Klein

An expatriate professor, Vega, returns from exile in Canada to El Salvador for his mother’s funeral. A sensitive idealist and an aggrieved motor mouth, he sits at a bar with the author, Castellanos Moya, from five to seven in the evening, telling his tale and ranting against everything his country has to offer. Written in a single paragraph and alive with a fury as astringent as the wrath of Thomas Bernhard, Revulsion was first published in 1997 and earned its author death threats.…
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The Dream of My Return

High-octane paranoia deranges a writer and fuels a dangerous plan to return home at the tail end of El Salvador’s long civil war. Is the plan a dream or a nightmare? Is he courageous, foolhardy, or just plain dumb? Is the bubbling brew of horrors and threats actual or imagined? After he seeks relief for liver pain through hypnosis (while drinking more than ever, despite the treatments), his few impulse-control mechanisms rapidly dissolve, and reality only rarely intrudes on his cogitations.…
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Tyrant Memory

Fiction by Horacio Castellanos Moya

Translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver

The tyrant of Horacio Castellanos Moya’s ambitious new novel is the actual pro-Nazi mystic Maximiliano Hernández Martínez – known as the Warlock – who came to power in El Salvador in 1932. An attempted coup in April, 1944, failed, but a general strike in May finally forced him out of office. Tyrant Memory takes place during the month between the coup and the strike. Its protagonist, Haydée Aragon, is a well-off woman, whose husband is a political prisoner and whose son, Clemente, after prematurely announcing the dictator’s death over national radio during the failed coup, is forced to flee when the very much alive Warlock starts to ruthlessly hunt down his enemies.…
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The She-Devil in the Mirror

Fiction by Horacio Castellanos Moya

Translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver

Laura Rivera can’t believe what has happened. Her best friend has been killed in cold blood in the living room of her home, in front of her two young daughters! Nobody knows who pulled the trigger, but Laura will not rest easy until she finds out. Her dizzying, delirious, hilarious, and blood-curdling one-sided dialogue carries the reader on a rough and tumble ride through the social, political, economic, and sexual chaos of post-civil war San Salvador.…
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Fiction by Horacio Castellanos Moya

Translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver

A boozing, sex-obsessed writer finds himself employed by the Catholic Church (an institution he loathes) to proofread a 1,100 page report on the army’s massacre and torture of thousands of indigenous villagers a decade earlier, including testimonies of the survivors. The writer’s job is to tidy it up: he rants “that was what my work was all about, cleaning up and giving a manicure to the Catholic hands that were piously getting ready to squeeze the balls of the military tiger.…
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Moya’s books rank among the strangest and most incisive contemporary Latin American works brought into our language.

—Michael LaPointe, Los Angeles Review of Books

Readers who appreciate literature that ridicules intolerance and brutality will celebrate the appearance of Lee Klein’s translation of Revulsion: Thomas Bernhard in San Salvador—an essential text in the oeuvre of Honduran-born Salvadoran author Horacio Castellanos Moya—nineteen years after its first publication.

Rain Taxi

An intense writer, whose short novels take fierce satiric hold of a fictional concept and squeeze and squeeze.

—James Wood, The New Yorker

Through imitation, a hybrid gem of fiction is born.

—Mark Haber, LitHub

A blistering novella that satisfies the darkness clouding the cynical side of our souls.

Numéro Cinq

Revulsion has a lot to teach us… It may be a gift, and it is very comforting, but lonely anger won’t help you in the end.

The New Inquiry

[Revulsion] hums with frenetic energy; a foreboding din both jarring and ruthless.


A scathing, electric, brief novel, an unrelenting diatribe taking aim at everything.


The book’s atmosphere of exasperated rage feels itchy, jagged, and real.

The Paris Review

A tribute and a parody as well as an original voice.


Moya is as whip smart as any of them, and as pissed off; and the reader would do well to read carefully, lest they feel the lash of his well-earned condescension.

Full Stop

You can get out of breath reading Moya, who seems to have some occult command over the relationship between subject matter and the kinetics of the language chosen to present it. There are no longueurs in this book.

—Norman Rush, New York Review of Books

Acid humor, like a Buster Keaton movie or a time bomb

—Roberto Bolaño

Humor amid the madness and evil. Don’t let the breezy, often funny and frequently irreverent tone fool you.

—John Greenya, Washington Times

A welcome eye-opening addition to this new literature of the Latin American nightmare.

—Anderson Tepper, Timer Out New York

Castellanos Moya has turned anxiety into an art form and an act of rebellion, and redeemed paranoia as a positive indicator of rot.

—Natasha Wimmer, The Nation

A slender tour-de-force: a rich, complex, beautifully crafted act of ventriloquism whose brevity belies its range.

—Tom Andes, The Rumpus

The Dream of My Return is a pleasurable, light-footed book, yet its final scene, which takes place in the airport as Erasmo debates whether to board the plane, has the tension of a thriller.

—Charles Finch, The New York Times Book Review


—Junot Diaz

Acid humor, like a Buster Keaton movie or a time bomb.

—Roberto Bolaño

Hilarious and chilling.

—Sheila Glaser, The New York Times Book Review

Brilliantly funny and unsettling. Moya has turned anxiety into an art form and an act of rebellion, and redeemed paranoia as a positive indicator of rot.

—Natasha Wimmer, The Nation

Moya’s scabrous, forceful, and very funny style is addictive.

—Britt Peterson, Bookforum

Acid humor, like a Buster Keaton movie or a time bomb.

—Roberto Bolaño

The only writer of my generation who knows how to narrate the horror, the secret Vietnam that Latin America was for a long time.

—Roberto Bolaño

The She-Devil in the Mirror is Horacio Castellanos Moya’s funniest, darkest, most terrifying work. A ‘typical’ superficial telenovela-like Salvadoran upper-class heroine investigates her friend’s murder and somehow her chattery, strenuously bright account of her adventure and her descent toward madness reveals more about intractable corruption, impunity and pure evil in her country than the usual narrators of such stories–terse, noirish, knowning detectives or journalists, for example–ever could.

—Francisco Goldman

This world of domestic charms and public terrors, beautifully captured by Katherine Silver’s translation, casts a seductive spell… Tyrant Memory remains Castellanos Moya’s most ambitious novel to date.

—Sheila Glaser, The New York Times Book Review
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