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Death of José Agustin, Mexican counterculture writer

Mexican writer José Agustin died Tuesday at the age of 79 in his home in Cuautla (central Mexico), announced his family, who described him as a “promoter of all forms of counterculture.

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Death of José Agustin, Mexican counterculture writer

Mexican writer José Agustin died Tuesday at the age of 79 in his home in Cuautla (central Mexico), announced his family, who described him as a “promoter of all forms of counterculture.” The Mexican Ministry of Culture regretted on social networks “the sad disappearance of José Agustin, Mexican storyteller, essayist, film scriptwriter, translator, playwright and journalist”.

Born in the port of Acapulco in 1944, he broke from his first novels, such as La tumba (1964) and especially De perfil (1966) (translated into French as Mexico midday to five), with the solemnity of Mexican literature for give a voice to young people who, in the 1960s, fought for more freedoms, whether political, social or sexual.

It was through this book that “La onda” (the wave) was launched, an irreverent, ironic and iconoclastic literary movement, combined with rock music and the counter-culture phenomenon in which Mexican youth identified. “He was a rebel with a cause, with affable, easy-going manners and infinite brilliance (...) who nourished everything: literature, theater, music, cinema,” declared the Mexican secretary to Culture, Alejandra Frausto, in a press release.

A rock and roll lover, he admired Elvis Presley, who inspired the title of his autobiography El rock de la carcel (Jailhouse rock), published in 1984, and launched a collection of essays on music in 1990. His novel Deserted Cities (1982), where the vicissitudes of a couple mix with a harsh criticism of the American way of life, was brought to the screen in 2016 under the title You're Killing Me Susana, with the Mexican actor Gael García Bernal.

In December 1970, he was arrested and imprisoned in Mexico City for possession of marijuana. During the six months he spent behind bars, he wrote Se está haciendo tarde, published in 1972 and considered one of his seminal works (Acapulco 72 in its French edition). His health had been fragile since 2009, the consequences of a fall during a signing session in Puebla. Since this accident, José Agustin had lived as a recluse, with his second wife, in his house in Cuautla. He had three children.

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