Ch’ayemal nich’nabiletik / Los hijos errantes / The Errant Children

A Trilingual Edition

Expected to ship: 2023-05-01

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A bold and unflinching portrayal of contemporary Maya life in Chiapas, Mexico.


Mikel Ruiz's The Errant Children, the first novel published in the Tsotsil Maya language, offers a brutal account of how Indigenous people can go astray due to insidious outside influences and their own impulses. Pedro Ton Tsepente' has a position in his village's traditional council, but rather than taking just a few ceremonial drinks, he becomes an alcoholic, subject to blackouts and delirium tremens. His wife, Pascuala, rages at God to step in and change her husband's behavior, taking extreme measures when He does not. Their neighbor, seventeen-year-old Ignacio Ts'unun, learns about gender relations by watching television programs where beautiful women are lighter-skinned and about sex by watching pornography, which leads to disastrous choices. These characters' suffering comes not from conquerors, missionaries, or settlers but from the invasive economic and cultural forces that make Indigenous people devalue themselves. Do not expect to be uplifted, but do prepare to be astonished at Mikel Ruiz's bold and unflinching portrayal of contemporary Maya life in Chiapas, México.

Mikel Ruiz received his doctoral degree in social and humanistic sciences from the University of Science and Arts of Chiapas in Mexico. He is the author of La ira de los murciélagos. Sean S. Sell is a doctoral candidate in comparative literature at the University of California, Davis. He is the translator and, with Nicolás Huet Bautista, coeditor of Chiapas Maya Awakening: Contemporary Poems and Short Stories.


"This is an important contribution to the Indigenous literary canon precisely because it offers a unique view of how Indigenous subjects internalize dominant culture in devastating ways. In addition to literature courses, it could also be used in courses that have a focus on Indigenous peoples, complementing historical or anthropological accounts that aim to highlight Maya or Indigenous voices. The inclusion of the original Tsotsil Maya and Spanish texts will allow instructors to explore comparisons with the English translation. Sean Sell's introduction and Alejandro Aldana Sellschopp's preface to the original edition are great, offering context for the book and making the case for its importance, and Arturo Arias's essay is also excellent, offering a critical and theoretical approach to the novel." — Emil' Keme, author of Le Maya Q'atzij/Our Maya Word: Poetics of Resistance in Guatemala