A Novel


When Malinalli, a member of the tribe conquered by the Aztec warriors, first meets the conquistador Hernán Cortés and becomes his interpreter, she -- like many -- believes him to be the reincarnated forefather god of her tribe. Naturally, she assumes she must welcome him, and help him destroy the Aztec empire and free her people. The two fall passionately in love, but Malinalli soon realizes that Cortés's thirst for conquest is all too human, and that he is willing to destroy anyone, even his own men -- even their own love.
  • Atria Books | 
  • 224 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743290357 | 
  • April 2007
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Reading Group Guide

In Malinche Laura Esquivel reimagines the relationship between the Spaniard Hernán Cortés and the Indian woman Malinalli, his interpreter and mistress during his conquest of the Aztecs. Malinalli meets Cortés and, like many, including the Aztec King Montezuma, suspects that he is the returning forefather god of their tribe, Quetzalcoatl. She assumes that her task is to welcome Cortés/Quetzalcoatl and help him destroy the Aztec empire and free her people, but she gradually comes to realize that Cortés's thirst for conquest is all too human.
Throughout Mexican history, Malinalli has been reviled for her betrayal of the Indian people. But recent historical research has shown that her role was much more complex. She was the mediator between two cultures, Hispanic and Native American, and three languages, Spanish, Mayan, and Náhuatl. She was also a slave, trying to rebel against the barbarous culture of her masters -- the Aztecs. But her loyalty was to her own people, whom she was trying to set free.
Laura Esquivel challenges the traditional mythology through a character-driven portrait of the Adam and Eve of mestizo culture, Cortés and Malinalli, with the backdrop of the fall of the Aztec Empire. Told with the lyricism of the Náhuatl song tradition and pictorial language, she gives us a creation myth of the new world hybrid culture and a legendary affair.
Group Questions
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More Books from this Author

Cuando Malinalli conoce a Hernán Cortés, asume que se trata del propio Dios Quetzalcóatl que regresa a liberar a su pueblo. Los dos se enamoran apasionadamente, pero este amor pronto es destruido por la desmedida sed de conquista, poder y riqueza de Cortés.

A lo largo de la historia de México Malinalli/Malinche ha sido conocida por su traición al pueblo indio. Pero recientes investigaciones históricas han demostrado que Malinalli fue la mediadora entre dos culturas, la hispánica y la...

About the Author

Laura Esquivel
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Laura Esquivel

Laura Esquivel was born in Mexico City in 1950. Her first novel, Like Water for Chocolate, has sold more than four and a half million copies around the world and remained on the New York Times bestseller list for more than a year. She currently lives in Mexico.