This vibrant collection of short stories, the first literary translation from Sierra Zapotec, updates magical realism for the 21st century.


A literary triumph by a member of the Mexico20 (the list that boasts Valeria Luiselli and Carlos Velasquez, among others), Red Ants is the first-ever literary translation from the Sierra Zapotec. This vibrant collection of short stories by one of Mexico’s most promising young authors paints a candid picture of indigenous Mexican life—an essential counterpoint to cultural products of the colonial gaze. José’s fantastical stories tackle themes of family, love, and independence in his signature style: unapologetically personal, coolly emotional, and always surprising.


“José is a rising star in Mexican literature, and this collection of short fiction, which examines indigenous life in the U.S.’s southern neighbor through the lens of a contemporary magic realism, should only further his acclaim. Veteran Spanish translator Bunstead… takes José’s clean, punchy lines and makes them sing—and stick with you." —John Maher, Publishers Weekly


“A set of short stories in which the peculiarity and the fantasy of Zapotec popular legends are brought to life by the imaginative and powerful pen of a great author in the making—what is perhaps a true breath of fresh and original air that does our national literature much good." —Mónica Maristain


“These stories are situated within an imaginary (of Pergentino José making) that is consistent from one story to the next…but it is an image that is not reflected in the rest of Mexican literature. This collection is poised to become a new and encouraging contribution.” —Altantl Molina, Marvin Magazine

Red Ants by Pergentino José

  • Deep Vellum Publishing 2020

    New paperback

    152 pages