Mundo Maya Blog
About this blog
Travelers to Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras in 2012 can expect a yearlong celebration of Maya culture, past and present—and Moon Maya 2012 author Joshua Berman is blogging about all of it.
- Maya 2012: A Round-up of Celebrations in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize & Honduras
- Reporting for National Geographic on Maya winter solstice in Belize
- Maya calendar cycle celebrated throughout Central America
- Feliz B'aktun! The New Dawn is Here: The First Sunrise in Caracol, Belize
- Maya Calendar 101: What Does “December 21, 2012” Really Mean?
- Gifts for Mayaphiles
- Books on the Maya: Suggested Reading for 2012
- Izapa Sunrise Story by Mary Jo McConahay
- Tranquilo Radio Tour 2012: Seven hours straight of talking about travel
- Tune in this Wednesday! Maya 2012 author Josh Berman on a radio show near you!
- End Maya-Aztec calendar confusion now!
- Q&A with Maya Experts on Satellite Imagery of Archaeological Sites
- Maya response to 'doomsday' 2012 stories
- Only a couple of rooms left for "The Great Return: Copan 2012" tour of a lifetime!
- 5 Questions about Traveling in the Mundo Maya for Rafael Garcia
2012 Deadly Awakening: Fantastic story set in Mérida and Chichen Itza on December 21, 2012
I met writer Beryl Gorbman over a taco lunch in the Chichen Itza Salon in the conference center in Mérida, Mexico, and I admit, I was skeptical when she handed me a copy of her mystery novel, 2012 Deadly Awakening (Intelligent Life, 2010). I’d just completed a self-guided crash course on Maya studies, plowing through a pile of non-fiction books regarding 2012 and Maya time-keeping; most were most fairly fascinating, but some were fairly dry and dense. There are hundreds of such titles out there, but before Gorbman came along, I had never seen a fictional treatment of the subject.
When I cracked open 2012 Deadly Awakening a few months later, I was drawn in and swept right back to the Yucatan where the book takes place. “The scene in Merida is chaotic and tense,” reads the description. “People think that the world is about to end, as it is the end of the Maya long-count calendar. Other people think humanity will evolve to a higher form of consciousness. You wouldn’t think these are ideals people would kill to protect, but they do. Thousands of spiritual tourists have descended upon this once-peaceful city, creating chaos. People die, and die very badly.”
Enter a New York City detective and the plot starts thickening by the page. What I most enjoyed about Gorbman’s treatment of the subject is her ability to find a nice balance between fact and funny, as she presents an accurate picture of all the types of people interested in 2012, from scientists to loonies to scam artists and beyond. At the same time, she maintains a tongue-in-cheekness that captures the lighter side of all the hype.
More importantly, she does not forget the Maya themselves — something that happens all too often in stories about 2012 (see the movie by the same name) — nor delicate social problems presented by the presence of foreigners in the Maya region. For example, one Maya character grumbles, “This is what the Maya have come to, he thought, getting angrier and more depressed by the moment. Servants to f***ing tourists who think our history is fascinating and that although we modern Maya are for shit, our ancestors long ago were incredible.”
2012 Deadly Awakening is a fun book. Period. The bonus is that is also teaches you about Mérida, Mexico, the people who live there, and some of the remarkable facts surrounding the Maya 2012 story. My only complaint is that the black and white images included in this self-published book do nothing to illustrate the action and even take away from the crackling prose. Warning: Reading this book might make you curious enough to book a flight to Mérida.
It also might make you want to read Gorbman’s sequel, called Madrugada, another Yucatan-set mystery, this one about the theft of sacred objects from an archaeological site. “The site,” she writes, “is isolated and when the archaeologists move in, their cultures and the culture of the villagers collide in odd ways….”