'Hierba Santa', by F.G. Haghenbeck, has just been acquired by Shangai 99 (China). Translation rights were recently acquired by Suhrkamp/Insel (Germany), Planeta Brasil (Brazil) and Orlando Publishers (The Netherlands) as well.
Hierba Santa was published last summer 2009 by Planeta Mexico. With echoes of Magic Realism, the novel is a vivid homage to Frida Kahlo, a woman who changed the course of modern art.
In the novel we are told that all her life Frida kept a little notebook which she called 'The Book of Hierba Santa (Holy Herb)'. In it, she wrote down not only her thoughts and ideas but also many Mexican food receipes that she prepared every 'Día de Muertos' (Day of the Dead), a holiday celebrated in Mexico to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. Traditions connected with the holiday include preparing the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as gifts.
What's new and different compared to other books about Frida is that the author uses fantasy in the story: The narrator tells us that after Frida's fatal accident in a tram in her early youth (which actually happened) she dies and meets Death. Frida then reaches an agreement with Death which allows her to go back to life: Every 'Día de muertos' she has to pay a tribute to Death by cooking wonderful meals. Given this, all through the novel Frida is very conscious that Death is also part of life. This certainty gives her a special view of the world and the events that take place.
Some of Frida's favourite receipes are included in the novel towards the end of every chapter, so apart from enjoying the narrative and learning more abot Frida's life, readers can also try their culinary skills and pay their own homage to a woman that has become an icon of 20th century art and feminism.
F. G. Haghenbeck (México, 1965).
Writer and scriptwriter has worked for Televisa and for different museums. He is proud to be the only Mexican who has written scripts for Superman (DC Comics), and has also participated in the creation of Crimson (Wildstorm 1999-2001) and Alternation (Image Comics, 2004). He's the author of successful novels in Mexico, amongst which Trago amargo (Bitter Drink), which was awarded the Premio Nacional Una Vuelta de Tuerca to the best crime novel in 2006, to be published soon in France (Denoël) and Serbia (Laguna). 'Hierba santa' will also be translated in different languages such as Dutch (Orlando Publishers), German (Insel Verlag), Chinese (Shangai 99) and Portuguese (Brazil only, Planeta Brasil).