Jacob the Mutant
by Mario Bellatin
translated from the Spanish by Jacob Steinberg
“…a memorable exploration of the compelling but futile drive to hold on to the familiar…”
Conceived of as a set of fragmentary manuscripts from an unpublished Joseph Roth novel, Mario Bellatin’s Jacob the Mutant is a novella in a perpetual state of transformation—a story about a man named Jacob, an ersatz rabbi and the owner of a roadside tavern. But when reality shifts, so does Jacob, mutating into another person entirely, while the novella mutates into another story. Cleverly translated by Jacob Steinberg, this Phoneme Media edition of a new novel by one of Mexico’s most notorious and celebrated writers includes a translator’s afterword and explanatory maps by illustrator Zsu Szkurka.
Mexican writer MARIO BELLATIN has published dozens of novellas on major and minor publishing houses in Latin America, Europe, and the United States. Phoneme Media has published his novella Shiki Nagaoka: A Nose for Fiction, and will publish three more of his books through 2016, including The Uruguayan Book of the Dead, for which he won Cuba’s 2015 José María Arguedas Prize. Bellatin’s current projects include Los Cien Mil Libros de Bellatin, his own imprint dedicated to publishing 1,000 copies each of 100 of his books.
JACOB STEINBERG was born in Stony Brook, New York, in 1989. A poet, translator, and critic, his publications include Magulladón (2012) and Ante ti se arrodilla mi silencio (2013). As a translator, he has worked with Sam Pink, Luna Miguel, and Mario Bellatin, among others. Scrambler Books released his first English-language collection, Before You Kneels My Silence, as well as the first volume of his translations of contemporary Argentine poet Cecilia Pavón. He currently lives in New York.
ZSU SZKURKA is a Hungarian illustrator whose work explores the space between science and art. As a doctor that specializes in mental illness, her work explores the human form as observed in morgues, asylums, and sanitoriums, both in Hungary and Mexico, where she resides.
"When we talk about translation, too often we talk about what is lost... the recent publication of Jacob the Mutant not only offers the reader a memorable exploration of the compelling but futile drive to hold on to the familiar in a world marked by constant change; it also insists on the status of its translation as the rebirth of a work" — Heather Cleary
"People often say, with a lot of truth to it, that all good fiction writing comes from some wound, out of some distance that needs to be breached between a writer and normalcy. In Mario’s sense, the wound is literal and comes with all kinds of psychological nuance and pain, and seems related to sexuality and desire, the desire for a whole body. One of my favorite aspects of him is this sense that he is writing for all the freaks — either literally freaks or privately and metaphorically, that he really touches us.” — Francisco Goldman
“Mario Bellatin, who has the fortune or misfortune of being considered Mexican by the Mexicans and Peruvian by the Peruvians [is one of the] writers without whom there’s no understanding of this entelechy that we call new Latin American literature.” — Roberto Bolaño