In the delightful Mayan folktale The Dog Who Spoke
, we learn what happens when a dog’s master magically transforms into a dog-man who reasons like a man but acts like a dog. This and the other Mayan folktales in this bilingual collection brim with the enchanting creativity of rural Guatemala’s oral culture. In addition to stories about ghosts and humans turning into animals, the volume also offers humorous yarns. Hailing from the Lake Atitlán region in the Guatemalan highlands, these tales reflect the dynamics of, and conflicts between, Guatemala’s Indian, Ladino, and white cultures. The animals, humans, and supernatural forces that figure in these stories represent Mayan cultural values, social mores, and history.
James D. Sexton and Fredy Rodríguez-Mejía allow the thirty-three stories to speak for themselves—first in the original Spanish and then in English translations that maintain the meaning and rural inflection of the originals. Available in print for the first time, with a glossary of Indian and Spanish terms, these Guatemalan folktales represent generations of transmitted oral culture that is fast disappearing and deserves a wider audience.