Translating the Tijuana Drug War: Strategies for the Translation of Juan Carlos Reyna’s El Extraditado

Alice Rose Whitmore

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Juan Carlos Reyna’s second book on organised crime, El Extraditado (Grijalbo 2014), lies somewhere between the parameters of journalism, fiction and memoir. It recounts the author’s experience alongside criminologist Farrah Fresnedo as the pair interview and eventually befriend ex-Tijuana Cartel leader Benjamín Arellano Félix, two years after the drug lord’s extradition to a Florida prison. The book, in Reyna’s words, ‘takes the form of a literary chronicle, in order to situate it outside the boundaries of journalism,’ and its style wavers accordingly between objective reporting and narrative indulgence. What begins and ends as an almost autobiographical account of the author’s involvement is interrupted by swathes of descriptive fiction, expository political analysis, and cold Bolaño-esque journalistic prose, fleshed out with facts and stories gathered from official records, police statements, and Arellano Félix’s own personal letters and testimonies. This crossing of literary borders is mirrored by the literal border crossings – between Mexico and the United States, Tijuana and San Diego, prison and the free world – undertaken by the author, his subject, and the narcotics that feed their violent worlds on both sides of the frontier. The result is a dissonant and deeply unsettling story that refuses to resolve the many disputes it raises, demanding at once compassion and animosity, horror and awe of its readers. The translation of such a book must take into consideration the conflicted context(s) of its authorship and the stories told within it, avoiding both the glamorisation and vilification of Tijuana, its drug wars, and those who wage them.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2015
EventNew Zealand Society of Translators and Interpreters (NZSTI) Conference: Conflict and Communication - Wellington, New Zealand
Duration: 27 Jun 201528 Jun 2015


ConferenceNew Zealand Society of Translators and Interpreters (NZSTI) Conference
CountryNew Zealand

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