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The Enlightened Army

The Enlightened Army

With nods to Miguel de Cervantes and Marcel Schwob, this award-winning novel by one of Latin America’s leading contemporary writers presents an allegorical noir history of Mexico’s vision of the United States.

Series: Latin American Literature in Translation

January 2019
Active (available)
232 pages | 5 x 8 |

Ignacio Matus is a public school history teacher in Monterrey, Mexico, who gets fired because of his patriotic rantings about Mexico’s repeated humiliations by the United States. Not only did Mexico’s northern neighbor steal a large swath of the country in the Mexican-American War, but according to Matus it also denied him Olympic glory. Excluded from the 1924 Olympics, Matus ran his own parallel marathon and beat the time of the American who officially won the bronze medal. After spending decades attempting to vindicate his supposed triumph and claim the medal, Matus seeks an even bigger vindication—he will reconquer Texas for Mexico! Recruiting an army of “los iluminados,” the enlightened ones, Matus sets off on a quest as worthy of Don Quixote as it is doomed.

David Toscana is one of Latin America’s leading contemporary writers, and his books have won several prestigious awards, including the Casa de las Américas Prize for The Enlightened Army. The novel’s treatment of the troubled relations between Mexico and the United States makes it highly topical at a time when immigration and border walls capture headlines, while its lyrical writing and humorous take on the absurdities of everyday life offer timeless pleasures.


Mexico and Poland

A native of Mexico, Toscana is the author of several novels, three of which have been translated into English—Tula Station, Our Lady of the Circus, and The Last Reader. He has been shortlisted twice for the Rómulo Gallegos International Novel Prize and was awarded the 2017 Xavier Villarrutia award for his novel, Olegaroy. He lives in Mexico and Poland.

Tempe, Arizona

Foster is Regents’ Professor of Spanish and Women and Gender Studies at Arizona State University, where he also leads the Brazilian Studies Program.


"Absurd and comic but with a bitter edge, this novel takes a unique and refreshing approach to the darker aspects of Mexico's relationship to the United States."
Kirkus Reviews

“Toscana is ready to join the ranks of Latin America’s finest novelists.”
Kirkus Reviews

“David Toscana deserves to be labeled the Latin American Cervantes of the twenty-first century! The Enlightened Army is like a little Quixote.”
El Tiempo (Bogotá)

“Toscana’s writing proves overall to be witty and disarming, alluding amusingly to Latin American writers such as Gabriel García Márquez and Carlos Fuentes.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“David Toscana may enter the pantheon of great Latin American authors.”
Houston Chronicle