José Revueltas

José Revueltas

The writer and journalist José Revueltas (1914–1976) was a lifelong political dissident. In the late ’60s, he spent two and a half years as a prisoner in the infamous Palacio de Lecumberri, a penitentiary near Mexico City. There, in the space of weeks, Revueltas wrote The Hole, using the real prison as the setting for his novella.

The Hole

Fiction by José Revueltas

Translated from the Spanish by Sophie Hughes Amanda Hopkinson

With a contribution by Álvaro Enrigue

Set in a Mexican prison in the late 1960s, The Hole follows three inmates as they attempt to sneak in drugs under the noses of their ape-like guards. Desperate to secure their next fix, they hatch a plan that involves convincing one of their mothers to bring the drugs into the prison. But everything about their plot is doomed from the beginning, doomed to end in violence … Unfolding in a single paragraph, The Hole is a verbal torrent, a prison inside a prison, and an ominous parable about deformed and wretched institutions creating even more deformed and wretched individuals.…
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Revueltas’s febrile sentences are as concentrated and intense as anything by Thomas Bernhard or Hermann Broch.
It is impossible to understand contemporary Latin American literature without Revueltas’s masterpiece, The Hole. Its current invisibility in the English language places works like Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 and César Aira’s political novellas in a bibliographical vacuum.
—Valeria Luiselli
José Revueltas is the synthesis of the Mexican soul: contradictory, unkempt, inventive, despairing, and shrewd. We love him dearly.
—Pablo Neruda
A brilliant novel.
Irish Times
His legendary seventh novel, now in English for the first time, eschewed redemptive pieties. Its single, fevered paragraph is the darkest tale I’ve ever read….[a] black jewel of a novel.
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