Last week I asked several Mexican friends a few basic questions about this country, just to test their cultural literacy.
I started out with asking them to name a few Mexican writers. The first insisted that Gabriel Garcia Marquez was a Mexican writer. Doesn’t Colombia ring a bell? The second came up with Octavio Paz and Carlos Fuentes, claiming that he couldn’t think of any more off the bat. The third admitted that she could not name a single one. Haven’t these folks heard of Juana Inés de la Cruz, Carlos Pellicer, Denise Dresser, Juan Ruiz de Alarcon, Ramon Lopez Velarde, Manuel Othon, Manuel Gutierrez Najera, Elena Poniatowska, Anita Brenner, Carlos Monsivàis, Homero Aridjis, Juan Rulfo, Guadalupe Loaeza, Laura Esquivel, Margo Glantz, Sara Sefchovich and and Guadalupe Marín, just for starters? Do they ever read the newspaper
One out of the three could not name the jefe de gobierno of the Distrito Federal. Maybe she hadn’t heard about abortion, the ice rink and the urban beach. I guess I shouldn’t have been disappointed: Contestant Number Three not only was unable to name a single one of the Niños Hèroes, she didn’t even know their place in Mexico’s history.
I saved the final volley for last. Could you recite the Himno Nacional? Dead silence.
Now, the really sad thing is that each of those I’d asked were educated people. And naturalized Mexican citizens. No, I’m not naming any names. But I know whom I can beat at Trivial Pursuit.