Mexican author Carlos Fuentes is best known for his short stories and novels. He was part of a flowering of 20th century Latin American writers that included Mario Vargas Llosa, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and many others.
Fuentes's first great novel, here the Air Is Clear (1958), caused a real sensation in literary circles and definitely established him as one of the best young writers. It portrays many grave social problems in contemporary Mexico City in a tone of bitter and violent protest. The structure is developed by continuous juxtaposition of scenes from different social levels and from different epochs. Fuentes uses interior monologue and portrayal of the subconscious mixed with pages that resemble an essay more than a novel. His second novel, Las buenas conciencias (The Good Conscience), appeared in 1959. It undertakes a clarification of Mexican life in greater depth and broader perspective. It is a moral drama of Mexican society in which everyone appears both as victim and accomplice.
During 1959-1960 Fuentes edited El espectador (The Spectator). Aura (Dawn), a short novel, appeared in 1962, and that same year he saw the publication of La muerte de Artemio Cruz ( The Death of Artemio Cruz). In this work Fuentes covers half a century of Mexican life, portraying the class that predominated in Mexico at the time, as represented by a man who took part in some of the skirmishes of the Revolution and, beginning in 1920, started to make a large fortune and acquire immense power. The death of this man and his 12 hours of agony constitute the theme of this novel.