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Spanish Latin Americanists on Contemporary Narrative

From: Latin American Research Review
Volume 48, Number 3, 2013
pp. 205-213 | 10.1353/lar.2013.0039

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Spanish Latin Americanists on Contemporary Narrative
Entre lo local y lo global: La narrativa latinoamericana en el cambio de siglo (1990–2006). Edited by Jesús Montoya Juárez and Ángel Esteban. Madrid: Iberoamericana; Frankfurt: Vervuert, 2008. Pp. 228. €18 paper. ISBN: 9788484893929.
Narrativas latinoamericanas para el siglo XXI: Nuevos enfoques y territorios. Edited by Ángel Esteban, Jesús Montoya, Francisca Noguerol, and María Ángeles Pérez López. Hildesheim, Germany: Georg Olms Verlag, 2010. Pp. xi + 280. €48. ISBN: 9783487144825.
Literatura más allá de la nación: De lo centrípeto y lo centrífugo en la narrativa hispanoamericana del siglo XXI. Edited by Francisca Noguerol, María A. Pérez, Ángel Esteban, and Jesús Montoya Juárez. Madrid: Iberoamericana; Frankfurt: Vervuert, 2011. Pp. 213. €24 paper. ISBN: 9788484896241.

Products of a collective research project among Spanish universities, these compilations are a very necessary and timely triptych on the contemporary Latin American narrative, particularly when little of comparable scope or value has come from the Americas. Complemented by each other’s goals, they are authoritative and diverse overviews of how the practice and theory of Latin America’s recent narrative are studied in Spain (though some contributors are not Spanish nationals). These books cover a substantial number of issues, authors, and works from various perspectives, many distancing themselves from conventional approaches, some hewing too closely to newly found interdisciplinary attentiveness. They are not much different from others published in English and share with them a (dis)comforting absence of purported authorities in the field. That uneasiness may be felt by such experts and their progeny only; many valuable interpretations are and can be written without citing specialists. Indeed, not ceding responsibility for judgment to experts is part of the history of the best Latin American criticism, so it is healthy, very instructive, and indispensable, up to a point, to consult readings that avoid conformities and faux reverence.

These volumes largely share some superseding principles: hybrid identities, postnationality, territoriality and its avatars, globalization and its discontents, new narrative techniques, notions of “minor/small” literatures, nomadism, and authorial self-perceptions, intertwined to different degrees to put in perspective and cautiously define the narrative in question. Those values tend to suitably demote, in no order of prominence, atavistic regionalisms based on exile, metafictional experiments, selective mourning, new sexualities, peripheries, neoliberal politics, [End Page 205] violence, and other post–magic realist and postmodern crises that characterized narrative at the end of the twentieth century, or until the conceptual upheavals that began with the Roberto Bolaño boom and recognition of his brood. Parsing those changes is not effortlessly accomplished, above all when, despite their joint purposes, the contributors seek new ways of expressing their views.

Entre lo local y lo global can be examined as a conceptual template for the subsequent volumes, primarily for dealing with immediately previous critical topics (borders, lasting wounds of dictatorships, “post-isms,” disconnects with the earlier literary Boom), and for setting up patterns by balancing impending discussions among critics and practitioners. Jesús Montoya Juárez and Ángel Esteban contribute a brief and devout introduction to their collection, summarizing the topics that their contributors delineate. Their proposal of a “neoliberal realism” and reliance on criticizing the hegemony of capitalism merit more than repeating assumptions about the narrative produced between 1990 and 2006, but their framework is valuable and correct in its predictions and wagers. Still, a devotion so passionate to the new and the mutable judgment of younger critics is not exclusively informed by the narrative they discuss but also by its history, the authors’ own role in marshaling its value, and later by the histories of reading and criticism themselves.

Like its companions, Entre lo local y lo global balances critical contributions and statements by authors who belong to the loosely defined generation, school, or movement with which the volumes deal. Francisca Noguerol’s “Narrar sin fronteras” opens the book’s first section, “Cartografías de la narrativa latinoamericana en tiempos de globalización.” A prolific author of similar prospects, she offers a vast sketch of the continent’s narrative, privileging blurred borders, globalization (27–29), universality, and quite accurately...