Reviews of The Dog Who Spoke and More Mayan Folktales / El perro que habló y más cuentos mayas

"Great book. Kids where I live in Guatemala love it."

        --Chuck Donahue,, 26 February 2017.

"James Sexton and his team again show the ability to deliver Maya voices from Lake Atitlán in this tome of stories from Sexton's rich erudite collaborators, in an edition enhanced by texts in both Spanish and English...This volume serves as a rich source of contemporary Tzutuhil oral tradition and a contribution to Maya oral literature."

          -- Duncan Earle, Handbook of Latin American Studies (HLAS On-line), Library of Congress, Vol. 67, 1 August 2012.

"The translations -- 'free' not literal (xvi) -- are first-rate and completely faithful to the patterns of speech in Guatemala. The orthography is reader-friendly and conforms to current linguistic standards. Sexton's comments, the glossary, and the stories are all given in Spanish and English. By all rights, The Dog Who Spoke should become a text of choice for teachers and students who want to learn Spanish (or English).

"Mesoamerican scholars will welcome The Dog Who spoke, and, let me add, it is also clearly intended for a broad audience, including high school students. These wonderfully translated and delightful stories provide all of us with access to another particular way of life in which we can also recognize ourselves."

          -- Norman B. Schwartz, Emeritus Professor, University of Delaware, Delaware Review of Latin American Studies, Vol. 12, No. 1, 30 June 2011.

"This delightful book contains thirty-three fresh, vibrant stories in bilingual form, English-Spanish, from the Lake Atitlán area of Guatemala. The translations  from Spanish into English maintain the flavor and effect of the original language in coherent, smooth flowing sentences...

"...It will be welcomed by researchers in anthropology, history, literature, and comparative literature as well as by recreational readers and teachers of all ages of students who want fascinating, authentic material in their classes. As a bilingual book, it will be attractive to classes in English and Spanish that delve into culture, literature, comparative studies, and education. In the spring semester of 2011 I used The Dog Who Spoke in an intermediate Spanish conversation class and found it to be a wise choice for various reasons. The Introduction fulfilled its purpose of acquainting students with and heightening their interest in cultural and historical information of the Mayas as well as introducing them to themes and values found in the stories. The bilingual form of the accounts, first in English followed by the Spanish translation, encouraged students to verify and learn unfamiliar words and expressions so they could fulfill the communicative goals of discussing the tales in Spanish and role playing characters, which also resulted in fun for the students. Assignments in structure and composition revolved around summaries, character sketches, comparisons, themes, and values, among others. Having previously used many other texts for this course and combing this semester with Hispanic films, The Dog Who Spoke clearly was a winner. Not only were the students stimulated to improve their skills in Spanish but they thoroughly enjoyed the venture into the world of Mayan literature. When asked which they liked best, the Mayan stories or the films, they unanimously voted for the narratives, especially the ones with moral issues and spiritual values."

          -- Mary H. Preuss, Penn State Greater Allegheny, Latin American Indian Literatures Journal, Vol. 26(2):195-198, Fall 2010.

"This attractive book presents thirty-three interesting Mayan folktales, each one first in English and then in Spanish. The stories were collected over the past forty years from two Mayan storytellers living in the department of Sololá on opposite sides of Lake Atitlán in the highlands of Guatemala. The collection was done by anthropologist James Sexton, the principal editor, who selected the tales and translated them with the help of Fredy Rodíguez-Mejía, who is part Ch'orti' Mayan.

 "A succinct and useful thirty-one page introduction by anthropologist Sexton places the stories in historical and cultural context and includes a few pages characterizing themes and values that are presented in the stories themselves...

 "'The Inheritance of the Old Man' (70-75) is a particularly interesting story in its reference to suffering in the underworld from jaguars, sharp knives, and bats, alluding to the Popol Vuh, the sacred book of the K'iche' Mayans. Visits to the house of the Mountain Lord in a cavern up on the mountain to request wealth, as found in this story, are themes in the lore of numerous other ethnolinguistic groups in Mesoamerica, allowing one to identify the Mountain Lord of the story as the Lightning Deity.

 "...This collection of Mayan tales is a book of considerable value to Mayanists for comparative purposes and to the general public for learning something of another culture while reading some fascinating stories."

          -- Brian Stross, University of Texas, Austin, Anthropos (Germany), Volume 106(2), 2011:708-709.           

"Those already familiar with James D. Sexton's work will find The Dog Who Spoke and More Mayan Folktales to be a welcome addition to a long line of his first-hand scholarly publications dealing with Maya life in the towns around Guatemala's Lake Atitlán.

"...In other words, in his descriptions of the contemporary cultural milieu of Lake Atitlán, Sexton deftly moves back and forth between the unity and diversity present within manifestations of Mayaness.

"Those interested in folklore and Maya cultures will find this book to be an interesting, worthwhile read as much for how it builds upon the corpus of oral Maya literature found in previously published collections as for the smooth, natural language of the translations. The bilingual format not only makes these works available to a wider audience throughout the Americas, but it also enables the book to be used in a wider variety of classroom settings, from anthropology or history courses taught in English to courses on contemporary Central American cultures taught in Spanish."

          -- Paul Worley, Department of Languages, University of North Dakota, The Latin Americanist 55(3), 2011:126-127.

"For the general public, this book will prove to be entertaining, and the tales are submitted in Spanish and English, making it accessible to a much larger audience. Sexton provides sufficient Mayan history to help the reader frame subsequent folktales within the worldview of the Maya. Readers will delight in these tales and find that they have, in some cases, parallels with tales they might be familiar with from their own culture. In the global community, examining divergent worldviews is essential to acknowledging, appreciating, and celebrating world cultures. The Dog Who Spoke and More Mayan Folktales presents an opportunity to do just that."

          -- Raymond A. Hall, Central Washington University, Journal of Folklore Research, 12 May 2011.

"Let me start by saying that I really enjoyed this book. The stories, both in English and Spanish are charming, as is the story behind the book...There is something for everyone in this book of tales -- insight into life, beliefs, history or just pure entertainment. This book is highly recommended to anyone studying indigenous cultures, anthropology, literature, folklore, history, Mayan culture, and bilingual studies." 

          -- Kathrin Dodds, Texas Tech University, 2011, Indigenous Peoples, Friday, 4 March 2011.

"Both a resource for scholars and an entertaining read, this book brings the wit and wisdom found in Mayan oral culture to a much wider audience."

          -- Book News, Inc., Portland, Oregon,, February 2011.

"This is an engaging collection of 33 tales from Lake Atitlán...The tales will appeal to academics and to general readers alike." -- Orlando Archibeque, University of Colorado Denver, Reforma, 13 March 2012.

"... the stories are entertaining, engaging, and at times even funny. One need not be an expert to enjoy them." -- David Carey, Jr., University of Southern Maine, Bulletin of Spanish Studies: Hispanic Studies and Researches of Spain, Portugal and Latin America (University of Glasgow), 25 April 2012.

"This absolutely delightful manuscript contains fresh, vibrant stories and is a definite contribution to the field...The Dog Who Spoke... is a treasure for researchers in anthropology, history, literature, and comparative literature as well as for teachers of all ages of students who want interesting, authentic material to use in their classes.  As a bilingual book, it will be attractive to both classes in English and Spanish."

          -- anonymous pre-publication reviewer

"This manuscript consists of a delightful collection of 32 different folktales collected in the Tz'utujil community of San Juan la Laguna, near Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala.  Rather than arguments, what we have is a representative body of tales that capture themes dear to the hearts of their rural listeners: respect for elders, the need to share good fortune, the importance of reciprocity between gods and humans, a healthy fear of the dead, and many other matters beside.  The author wisely avoids over-interpretation, instead preferring to let the stories speak for themselves...Many different audiences will enjoy this work.  Scholars interested in Guatemala, Maya culture, and Latin American ethnohistory will be the most reliable readership, but I think that general readers without a particularly extensive knowledge of the places and peoples can enjoy the stories on their own terms.  Folklore scholars will certainly want to read "The Dog Who Spoke."

        -- anonymous pre-publication reviewer

Guatemalan Fabric

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