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Quince Duncan

Writing Afro-Costa Rican and Caribbean Identity

Dorothy E. Mosby

Publication Year: 2014

Quince Duncan is a comprehensive study of the published short stories and novels of Costa Rica’s first novelist of African descent and one of the nation’s most esteemed contemporary writers.
The grandson of Jamaican and Barbadian immigrants to Limón, Quince Duncan (b. 1940) incorporates personal memories into stories about first generation Afro–West Indian immigrants and their descendants in Costa Rica. Duncan’s novels, short stories, recompilations of oral literature, and essays intimately convey the challenges of Afro–West Indian contract laborers and the struggles of their descendants to be recognized as citizens of the nation they helped bring into modernity.
Through his storytelling, Duncan has become an important literary and cultural presence in a country that forged its national identity around the leyenda blanca (white legend) of a rural democracy established by a homogeneous group of white, Catholic, and Spanish peasants. By presenting legends and stories of Limón Province as well as discussing the complex issues of identity, citizenship, belonging, and cultural exile, Duncan has written the story of West Indian migration into the official literary discourse of Costa Rica. His novels Hombres curtidos (1970) and Los cuatro espejos (1973) in particular portray the Afro–West Indian community in Limón and the cultural intolerance encountered by those of African-Caribbean descent who migrated to San José. Because his work follows the historical trajectory from the first West Indian laborers to the contemporary concerns of Afro–Costa Rican people, Duncan is as much a cultural critic and sociologist as he is a novelist.
In Quince Duncan, Dorothy E. Mosby combines biographical information on Duncan with geographic and cultural context for the analysis of his works, along with plot summaries and thematic discussions particularly helpful to readers new to Duncan.

Published by: The University of Alabama Press


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pp. C-C

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x


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pp. xi-xiv

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pp. 1-18

Recognized as Costa Rica’s first novelist of African descent, Q uince Duncan is one of his nation’s most esteemed contemporary writers.1 The grandson of Jamaican and Barbadian immigrants, Duncan “remembers” the experience of the first generation of Afro–West Indian immigrants and that of their descendants...

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1. Short Fiction

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pp. 19-49

Before the release of his earlier novels, Hombres curtidos and Los cuatro espejos, Duncan published short stories in newspapers, journals, and in stand-alone collections. Several of the author’s short stories address the peculiarities of the Costa Rican social and political landscape while others address more universal themes...

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2. The Novels of Identity: Hombres curtidos and Los cuatro espejos

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pp. 50-103

Duncan’s first two novels, Hombres curtidos (1971) and Los cuatro espejos (1973) may be described as “novels of Afro–Costa Rican identity.” These early works center on the reconciliation of national and cultural identities—the fact of being black of West Indian descent and Costa Rican, in defiance of the leyenda blanca....

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3. Novels of Samamfo: La paz del pueblo, Kimbo, and A Message from Rosa

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pp. 104-151

La paz del pueblo (1978), Kimbo (1989), and A Message from Rosa / Un Mensaje de Rosa (2007) have varied plots and themes, but these three texts share at the center of their narratives the Afro-realist concept of samamfo, which is characterized by ancestral voices, communication with the dead, and the connection to a...

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4. Dismantling the Myths: Final de calle and El trepasolo

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pp. 152-176

The novel Final de calle (Dead-End Street, 1979 [1981]) and Duncan’s only published dramatic text El trepasolo (The Lone Climber, 1993) present serious critiques of Costa Rican society by dismantling some of the myths of the nation. These two works, separated by almost fifteen years, are joined together in this...

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pp. 177-180

At the book presentation for Quince Duncan’s Cuentos escogidos (2004), an anthology of the author’s short fiction, held on August 31, 2004, at Costa Rica’s National Museum, literary critic and president of the Editorial Costa Rica, Albino Chacón Gutiérrez, made a series of accurate observations that are not often heard...


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pp. 181-188

Works Cited

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pp. 189-194


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pp. 195-198

E-ISBN-13: 9780817387228
E-ISBN-10: 0817387226
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817313494
Print-ISBN-10: 0817313494

Page Count: 216
Illustrations: 1 map
Publication Year: 2014

OCLC Number: 870949333
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Quince Duncan