Mexico remembers writer Carlos Monsivais, one year later


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The photo above shows the front gate of the longtime home of Carlos Monsivais, the celebrated Mexican author who died a year ago Sunday at the age of 72. Read our June 20, 2010, La Plaza post on his death as well as the obituary in The Times.

Well-regarded in his barrio, Monsivais lived for many years on Calzada San Simon in the San Simon Ticumac neighborhood of south-central Mexico City, near the famous Portales market. He worked there for many years, surrounded by piles of books, pop memorabilia and, famously, his cats (link in Spanish).


La Plaza shot these photos on Calzada San Simon in the days after the author’s death.

Neighbors posted signs of regards and affection for ‘Monsi,’ as the author of ‘Days to Remember’ and ‘Apocalipstick’ was called. The messages in Spanish are heartwarming and often florid, a worthy homage to the writer who once poetically described the Mexico City subway as a primal human battleground for oxygen.

Monsivais was remembered once again by friends and colleagues during a memorial on Sunday at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in downtown Mexico City (link in Spanish). The writer Elena Poniatowska, a lifelong friend, said at the memorial that in the past year Monsivais’ death has been an ever-present void in the intellectual life of Mexico, ‘a horrible loss.’

‘Monsi went directly to the essence of things,’ she said. ‘His implacable fortitude, his critical intelligence ... transformed him into a defender of civil rights, into the intellectual who most knew and best knew how to protest the violation of human rights, and the citizen who best denounced the enormous ineptitude and rampant greed of the politicians who govern us.’

More photos below.

Four of Monsivais’ books have been published posthumously, a reminder of the writer’s prolific work (link in Spanish). Yet he has barely been translated into English. Titles that are beloved by many Mexicans, up and down the class scale and across generations, are not well known in the United States or Europe.

Monsivais’ personal collections of more than 10,000 pieces of graphic arts and memorabilia remain on display at the Museo del Estanquinillo, the museum he founded in 2006 in the historic center of Mexico City. The writer’s ashes are now also on display in the museum’s galleries.


They are kept in an urn designed by artist Francisco Toledo that is shaped like a cat.

-- Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City