Mexican Novelist, Essayist José Agustín
José Agustín Secretaría de Cultura, CDMX

José Agustín, one of Mexico's most prolific writers and a voice that embodied the country's urban sensibility and modern culture of local youths, has died at the age of 79.

A precocious writer interested in giving voice to the youth emerging from the social movements of the second half of the 20th century, José Agustín published his first novel, "La Tumba" ("The Grave," 1964), at the age of 20, although it is known that he wrote it at 16. But it was with "De Perfil" ("In Profile") that he gained international recognition, earning the title of "Mexico's young author" at the age of 22, a distinction he maintained for decades.

Because of these works, in which he faithfully and authentically reproduced the speech of middle-class urban youth—largely influenced by American cultural bombardment but firmly anchored in a defense of Mexicanness—José Agustín was considered the creator of the "onda movement," along with authors such as Gustavo Sáinz and Parménides García Saldaña.

Although he distanced himself from the intellectual elites of Mexico, preferring refuge in the southern state of Morelos, José Agustín served as a guide for several generations of Mexicans.

He achieved this not only through his literary works but also through his portrayal of the historical and social processes that shaped Mexican society between the 40s and the 90s, as evident in his monumental work, "Tragicomedia Mexicana" ("Mexican Tragicomedy"). With these chronicles, and essays, he earned enemies within the political party that ruled Mexico with an iron fist for more than seven decades.

In this work, José Agustín revealed himself as a pundit with a clear, and concise vision of the events that shaped new forms of democracy in the country.

Earlier this year, José Agustín Ramírez Bermúdez, his son, revealed that the writer, who had been in retirement for almost a decade due to an accident during a literary presentation, was given the last rites by a priest friend.

Mexican Writer José Agustín Lies in Bed
Mexican writer José Agustín lies in bed. José Agustín Ramírez Bermúdez's Facebook page

"With this, my work here comes to an end," said the writer by way of epitaph.

According to journalist Miguel Angel Sanchez de Armas in a text written in 2003, José Agustín (1944) was a "young veteran who has not stopped reading and writing during the almost five decades since his first book appeared. His precocity is truly unusual because, in addition to what has already been published, he has written texts that did not come to public light, perhaps due to an excess of self-criticism."

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