The Uncomfortable Dead

The Uncomfortable Dead or
Inconvenient Dead
Eng. trans ion cover
AuthorPaco Ignacio Taibo II & Subcomandante Marcos
Original titleMuertos incómodos
TranslatorCarlos Lopez
PublisherLa Jornada & (eng. trans Akashic Books)
Publication date
November 2004
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)
Pages268 pp (Eng. trans ion)
ISBN1-933354-07-0 (Eng. trans ion)
LC ClassPQ7298.23.A642 M8413 2006

The Uncomfortable Dead (or Inconvenient Dead) (orig. Spanish Muertos incómodos) is a Mexican novel written in conjunction by guerrilla spokesman Subcomandante Marcos of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) and Mexico City crime writer Paco Ignacio Taibo II. The novel is written in the so-called "four hands" method in which one author writes a chapter or segment of the novel, handing it over to the other author who writes the next chapter or segment in response. The method has been compared to a game of ping pong between the authors.

The concept for the novel and its unusual writing method was suggested in a letter from Marcos to Taibo II, outlining the "rules and regulations". Within a week of accepting the proposal, the first chapter appeared in La Jornada, an important Mexico City newspaper. The result was nine chapters of material published in La Jornada from November 2004 to February 2005, with the newspaper's ors promising a complete ion of the work in its native Spanish by reputed Spanish language publisher Editorial Planeta. The novel will also be released in book format in Italy, France, United States, Greece, Romania and Turkey.


The story follows Elías Contreras, a Zapatista investigation commission, and Héctor Belascorán, a private detective from Mexico City and recurring character of Taibo's, as they try to unravel the mystery of a dead man leaving messages on answering phones, find out who Morales is. Belascorán is Taibo's main protagonist; Contreras is Marcos's. During the book, and especially during the chapters written by Marcos, the reader is introduced to many characters, some of whom only appear for a very short time. The book looks at the politics of Mexico and at neo-liberalism.

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