eArc REVIEW: Mexico by Josh Barkan


41l93bapul-_sx341_bo1204203200_Title:  Mexico
Series:  –
Author:  Josh Barkan
Publisher:  Hogarth
Published:  January 2017
Language:  English
Format:  eBook
Pages:  256



Genre: Short Stories, Fiction, Crime, Adult.
Average Goodreads rating: 3.27

The characters in Josh Barkan s remarkable story collection “Mexico” are ordinary people everyday citizens, expats, and travelers visiting the country for their own reasons who find themselves inexorably caught up in and impacted by the criminality and brutality of the Mexican cartels.”



My Rating and General Opinion


I thought this would be an interesting book and new type of book for me to read, which I am always in the look for, but as things turned out this book wasn’t for me.
Some of the stories were mediocre or at least I had no interest in them, but other were really good and entertaining. That’s why this review has been difficult because I didn’t know exactly how to rate or write about it. I decided to rate each short story individually.

General Writing

I found the writing not to be great, or at least not appealing enough for me.
The sentences were too long and they felt dense which made them get boring at times. This whole thing reminded me of the way I think in spanish, always in longer sentences than I do in english.
Another problem I had with his writing was the inability he had to write-up characters.
First of all, in a couple of stories I was so sure that our protagonist was of the opposite gender that he actually was that you can imagine my confusion when I realized I was wrong…
Secondly, I just didn’t feel he knew how to construct a proper character. The protagonists that we find along the different stories just don’t seem real, but more like cartoons. I don’t think their personalities were defined at all, which made their actions senseless at times.
And lastly he had no clue how to write a proper female character. If I already talked about how I thought he had problems when creating characters, introduce an emphasis  for his try outs to create a female one. It was pure chaos.

The Stories & Characters

The only things I know about cartels are what I’ve read and seen in the TV and movies but I believe everything I read here, some stories were just not compelling enough.

The Chef and El Chapo, 2-2.25*
The story of how a narco comes to have dinner and expects the best of treatments and menus. Here we find a clear example of a strange character right here. This guy has a lot of inner rambling that turns out confusing and dense and when you finally start to understand him he takes another turn and your mind just cannot cope with this craziness!

The God of Common Names, 3.5*
Major problem… I thought I was listening to a woman speak!! How is that possible?? :/ We follow (apparently) a young teacher man trying to make things right in his own life while watching the old story of Romeo&Juliet come to life once again, this time involving enemy gangs/narcos/families. You guessed right how things turned out but at least we got something good out of all of this chaos.

I Want to Live, 3.25*
A former nurse goes to the clinic to get a professional opinion about something and finds another girl waiting who apparently is really pretty but who’s had a difficult life who she later starts to explain. I guess that with all of this narco and gang drama the fact that pedophilia takes place doesn’t matter? Because apart from that some major unnerving characters com together here… unnerving to say the least.

Acapulco, -*
Not for me, didn’t care at all.

The Kidnapping, 3.5-3.75*
Great start with a real and raw storyline. So compelling that brings chills to your bones. This describes something that nowadays I don’t find that far-fetched to happen. Scary, scary good. Also the main character found here was approachable and I didn’t hate him.

The Plastic Surgeon, 2.75-3*
The story of how a plastic surgeon finds himself being visited by an illustrious delinquent and how things unravel from then on. The main character is just too superficial and disgusting to feel any real sympathy for him, he looks frivolous at the beginning, the take a turn for the normal and then goes back to acting strange as hell.

The Sharpshooter, 3*
A tale of survival and friendship… go wrong by  vanity and higher hopes. Here we find an intelligent subject who ends up alone and hopeless in some kind of way. He looses perspective but never his roots, even though he is a military man he believes that violence doesn’t solve anything but only brings more violence to the table, which I completely approve.

The Painting Professor, 2.25*
We follow an old painter in the outskirts of Mexico, in a not so good town and how after suffering from memory problems and some close encounters, he comes to terms and decides to make some changes in his life. A useless character + another useless character.

The American Journalist, 4*
This was one of the good ones. Good start, story, writing and interesting characters. We follow a US journalist who’s been living down in mexico for a while and who one day decides to interview certain gentlemen from up north, but he didn’t know where he was getting into… This story keeps getting better and has some profound meaning to it, be the leader of your own life or be nothing but a pawn?

Everything Else Is Going to Be Fine, 4.25*
A great little story with some great message. I enjoyed a lot the beginning of the story with all of that inner rambling about US… no, you are not America and also nope, you are not the center of the universe. The character we find here is another good and juicy one. I cannot begin to understand how he goes on living like that, such a double life… and things don’t seem to get any better because the way he torments himself is just not good, at all.

The Prison Breakout, 3.25-3.5*
We find an US citizen helping a wrongly accused (which nobody cares about) mexican citizen. A boring beginning evolving into an interesting one. This one has a smart approach to a compelling story about injustice, truth and friendship. From this one I took the message because I wasn’t completely feeling it.

The Escape from Mexico, 3.25*
The story of how the Mexican streets are not safe, not even for little kids, unbelievable but real. This one has an interesting beginning and an approachable character, for whom I feel sorry and sad for him. I don’t think we get to meet him all that much, We only get snippets about his life and with all the drama that the story took at the beginning the ending felt flat.


The message I got from this book was, do NOT visit Mexico. There’s danger, ugliness and dirt all over the place so why even bother?? Which begs the questions, all of the characters depicted here that are living down there, why don’t they simply leave the place? Most of them are US citizens so they wouldn’t have any problem going back home.

– · – · –

“I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.”

I must give a big thank you to the author, Josh Barkan, the publisher, Hogarth, and Blogging for Books / Netgalley for approving me and giving me this opportunity. This is a completely honest review.



Josh Barkan

JOSH BARKAN won the Lightship International Short Story Prize and has been a finalist for the Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction, the Paterson Fiction Prize, and the Juniper Prize for Fiction. He is the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He spent much of his childhood abroad, living in Kenya, Tanzania, France and India. After attending Yale University, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa, he spent a year teaching in Japan and received his MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His writing has appeared in Esquire and as a contributor to The Boston Book Review. With his wife, a painter from Mexico, he divides his time between Mexico City and Roanoke, Virginia, where he teaches at the Jackson Center for Creative Writing at Hollins. He has taught writing at Harvard, Boston University, and New York University. His previous books include the novel Blind Speed and the story collection Before Hiroshima.

website-icon-18      descarga (12)


You can order it now here:


Amazon ES hardback (24 enero)
Amazon UK hardback (january 24)
Amazon US hardback (january 24)
Wordery hardback (january 24)
               Book Depository hardback (january 24)


3 thoughts on “eArc REVIEW: Mexico by Josh Barkan

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s