Today, we celebrate José Emilio Pacheco, the Mexican poet, essayist, novelist, narrator, and translator considered among Mexico’s most important writers of the 20th century.

Born in Mexico City in 1939, Pacheco rose to prominence amidst a group of socially dedicated writers in the 1960s. His works frequently challenged Mexico’s political and literary elite, brought to light social issues, and explored the meaning of time, life, and death. Pacheco was known for his simple, direct words, which contrasted the figurative language used by many great poets of his time.

José Emilio Pacheco’s 79th Birthday

Though he received no shortage of awards, including the esteemed Miguel de Cervantes Literature Prize in 2009, Pacheco notably downplayed his talents. On what would’ve been his 79th birthday, we honor him for his innumerable contributions to Mexican literature.

In today’s Doodle by guest artist Loris Lora, the turtle shell comprising the second Google “g” references the cover of Pacheco’s first short story collection, El viento distante (The Distant Wind), published in 1963. The woman in the frame reimagines Las batallas en el desierto (Battles in the Desert). This 1981 novella was so popular it inspired a film, a comic, and even a classic rock song. In the right corner, a ship alludes to the cover of El principio del placer (The Pleasure Principle), while the cricket represents a poem that shares its name.

Feliz cumpleaños, José Emilio Pacheco!