Salvation and Soccer in Ciudad Juárez
Robert Andrew Powell, 2012, Bloomsbury USA
That soccer can be used to describe the state of a society is a common theme in this blog. Therefore one cannot wonder that a book about a soccer team in Ciudad Juárez is mainly focused on living in the city itself and not necessarily provides a history of the local team in every detail.
The Indios de Ciudad Juárez have been a short-lived team which got attention by earning promotion to the first Mexican soccer league and then staying there for two years. In the book the author moves there after the first year and stays for the second season which ends with relegation. He follows the ultra group, becomes friends with them and watches the games. But the description of the games is always just an intermission for the tales around the live in the most violent city in the world. I talks about how one gets accustomed to the violence which leaves every day 5 to 10 bodies dead in the streets, how often one can be lucky to avoid becoming a victim just by some minutes or just some short distance apart from where and when the killing happens but still is able to keep going. It also shows how the expulsion works but also how friendly the people are and that many of them stay there, because they want to live in their hometown, although the chances are very small that a family stays unaffected by murders over a long period of time.
What this book makes so special is the unbiased look at the live of the people there, which does not come from an position of arrogance, which usually starts such a report with the mentioning of the drug war, the corrupt government or sexism in Latin countries and then tries to understand which type of people still live there. The book takes the opposite way and tries to show the normal everyday live which goes on in every city and how it is still possible against the odds. Therefore for me reading this book, it is one of the best ways to understand and to learn about Ciudad Juárez. For this it stands in one line with 2666 of Roberto Bolaño, who might have set the wrong focus on the women murders, as Powell points out, but nevertheless allows a view into the atmosphere of the border city.
Tactics & Game philosophy: 0/3
Next book: Pressing (Dec 17th)