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Padilla, one of Mexico's foremost young writers, presents a handful of eclectic modern-day fables. A Scottish engineer is abandoned in the Gobi desert, and the nomadic peoples that rescue him treat him as a god, rebuilding the city of Edinburgh among the desert dunes. An unusual plague devastates an already devastated tribe in the Amazon. An eccentric Englishman decides to climb Mount Everest as his dying act, and when he mysteriously disappears, he becomes the stuff of legends. A mystical monk of an unspecified era seeks the devil in the desert. A British officer tries to make the trains run on time in colonial Africa, but finds he is thwarted in unlikely ways. Padilla's collection of stories spans the world and the ages, as he brings us from the Mongolian desert to the Dutch East Indies. His stories, placed within history, tell of colonialism gone amok, of spirituality gone awry, bringing a beautiful, surreal narrative to the ways our history has been shaped. Michael Spinella
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