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A Fictional Sketch of Future Customs
A Critical Edition

Eduardo Urzaiz
Edited and translated by Sarah A. Buck Kachaluba and Aaron Dziubinskyj

Winner, Jose Toribio Medina Award, Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials

A little-known gem of utopian/dystopian fiction published in 1919 tells the story of a eugenically engineered society of the future

It is the year 2218. In “Villautopia,” the capital of a Central American nation, the state selects young, biologically desirable citizens to act as breeders. Embryos are implanted in males to increase a flagging population rate, and the offspring are raised in state facilities until old enough to choose their own, nonnuclear families. Sterilization of children with mental or physical abnormalities further ensures the purity of the gene pool.

Written two years before Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We and twelve years before Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, Eugenia recounts the story of Ernesto, who at age twenty-three is selected as a breeder. Celiana, his thirty-eight-year-old lover and an accomplished scholar, is deemed unfit for reproduction. To cope with her feelings of guilt and hopelessness, she increasingly turns to marijuana, and her scholarly productivity declines. Meanwhile Ernesto falls in love with a fellow breeder, a young woman named Eugenia—but the life they ultimately choose is not quite what the state had envisioned.

Taking up important challenges of modern society—population growth, reproductive behavior and technologies, experimentation with gender roles, and changes in family dynamics—Eugenia is published here in English for the first time. Sarah A. Buck Kachaluba and Aaron Dziubinskyj provide a critical apparatus helping readers to understand the novel’s literary genesis and genealogy as well as its historical context. Arising from its twentieth-century origins, yet remarkably contemporary, Eugenia is a treasure of speculative fiction.



Eduardo Urzaiz (1876–1955) was a Cuban-Mexican schoolteacher, gynecologist, obstetrician, artist, and student of psychiatry.


Author. Photo credit, Name Sarah A. Buck Kachaluba is the Latin American Studies and Iberian Languages and Literatures Librarian at the University of California, San Diego, and has a PhD in Latin American history.


Author. Photo credit, NameAaron Dziubinskyj is an associate professor of modern languages at DePauw University.





“A major contribution. Sarah A. Buck Kachaluba and Aaron Dziubinskyj have unearthed a powerful and crucial work in the literary history of Mexico, and they have created a precise, effective translation and a critical apparatus that encourages readers to engage with the story in novel and complex ways.”
—Cristina Rivera-Garza, author of No One Will See Me Cry

“Gives scholarly and general audiences alike the chance to read an exceptional novel whose main theme, eugenics, still resonates today in our age of genetic engineering.”
Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts



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Mordecai Roshwald, edited and with a new foreword by David Seed

Larger images

February 2016
LC: 2015010204 PQ
248 pp.   6 x 9
8 b/w illus.

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Paper $26.95 t
ISBN 978-0-299-30684-7
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• Original Mexican edition: Talleres gráficos A. Manzanilla, 1919