The Femicide Machine
Sergio González Rodríguez
Translated by Michael Parker-Stainback
In Ciudad Juarez, a territorial power normalized barbarism. This anomalous ecology mutated into a femicide machine: an apparatus that didn’t just create the conditions for the murders of dozens of women and little girls, but developed the institutions that guarantee impunity for those crimes and even legalize them. A lawless city sponsored by a State in crisis. The facts speak for themselves.
—from The Femicide Machine
Best known to American readers for his cameo appearances as The Journalist in Roberto Bolano’s 2666 and as a literary detective in Javier Marías’s novel Dark Back of Time, Sergio González Rodríguez is one of Mexico’s most important contemporary writers. He is the author of Bones in the Desert, the most definitive work on the murders of women and girls in Juárez, Mexico, as well as The Headless Man, a sharp meditation on the recurrent uses of symbolic violence; Infectious, a novel; and Original Evil, a long essay. The Femicide Machine is the first book by González Rodríguez to appear in English translation.
Written especially for Semiotext(e) Intervention series, The Femicide Machine synthesizes González Rodríguez’s documentation of the Juárez crimes, his analysis of the unique urban conditions in which they take place, and a discussion of the terror techniques of narco-warfare that have spread to both sides of the border. The result is a gripping polemic. The Femicide Machine probes the anarchic confluence of global capital with corrupt national politics and displaced, transient labor, and introduces the work of one of Mexico’s most eminent writers to American readers.
About the Author
Sergio González Rodríguez is a columnist for the Mexico City newspaper Reforma who began his career writing art criticism for the renowned writer and editor Carlos Monsivais. He has covered the Juárez femicides since 1995, revealing the ties between police, government officials, and drug traffickers. Assaulted and kidnapped by unknown assailants in Mexico City in 1999 and banned from the State of Chihuahua, he continues to write on these subjects. Bones in the Desert and The Headless Man have been published in Mexico, Spain, France, and Germany. González Rodríguez studied literature and journalism and is currently completing a doctorate in law.
“In this grim analysis of the infamous murders of young women in the Mexican border city of Juárez, Mexican journalist Rodríguez links this series of grisly, ongoing, unsolved crimes with local, national, and international societal and political malaise. The epilogue, a mother’s heartbreaking narration of her 17-year-old daughter’s abduction and subsequent rape, torture, and murder, denied by the local police but reported by the El Paso FBI, brings the book’s message to terrifying life.”
“Sergio Gonzáles Rodríguez is known by many as a columnist for the Mexican journal Reforma and as the inspiration for the character Sergio Gonzales in Roberto Bolaño’s 2666. [However,] the ambitions of The Femicide Machine are much broader than mere reportage. The Femicide Machine attests to years of investigating the unsolved murders of hundreds of women in and around Ciudad Juárez, along with the institutionalized political, economic, and moral corruption that assures these crimes are committed with impunity.”
“González Rodríguez tells us that the runaway violence [in Ciudad Juárez] isn’t necessarily new, or surprising. Ciudad Juárez is a city with a past: as an American “backyard,” a “dump-desert city,” a “metaphor for private territoriality and subsidiary domain.” This is the subject — how submission (to the U.S.) and danger (acutely in relation to the U.S.) — that he attempts to unpack. The book is a thin volume — more of an essay — and is a helpful guide, a CliffsNotes for the drug war.”
—Los Angeles Review of Books