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A User's Guide to Postcolonial and Latino Borderland Fiction

By Frederick Luis Aldama

Publication Year: 2009

Why are so many people attracted to narrative fiction? How do authors in this genre reframe experiences, people, and environments anchored to the real world without duplicating “real life”? In which ways does fiction differ from reality? What might fictional narrative and reality have in common—if anything? By analyzing novels such as Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things, Amitav Ghosh’s The Glass Palace, Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, and Hari Kunzru’s The Impressionist, along with selected Latino comic books and short fiction, this book explores the peculiarities of the production and reception of postcolonial and Latino borderland fiction. Frederick Luis Aldama uses tools from disciplines such as film studies and cognitive science that allow the reader to establish how a fictional narrative is built, how it functions, and how it defines the boundaries of concepts that appear susceptible to limitless interpretations. Aldama emphasizes how postcolonial and Latino borderland narrative fiction authors and artists use narrative devices to create their aesthetic blueprints in ways that loosely guide their readers’ imagination and emotion. In A User’s Guide to Postcolonial and Latino Borderland Fiction, he argues that the study of ethnic-identified narrative fiction must acknowledge its active engagement with world narrative fictional genres, storytelling modes, and techniques, as well as the way such fictions work to move their audiences.

Published by: University of Texas Press

Series: Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Series in Latin American and Latino Art and Culture


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p. vii

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Introduction: Putting the World Back Into Postcolonial and Latino Borderland Literature

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pp. 1-13

As a Chicano teen far from homelands (Mexico and California) growing up in a 1980s London stretched large with all walks of life I found myself irresistibly drawn to literature. With the guidance of a gracious librarian and an Afro-Caribbean British-identifying English teacher, I indulged in the inexhaustible splendors, merriment, and knowledge served up by the likes of Gabriel Garc

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ONE. A User's Guide to Postcolonial and Latino Borderland Fiction

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pp. 14-48

Using narrative theory—specifically the tools developed by narratology—to understand better how postcolonial and Latino borderland narrative fiction ticks is an important first move. Mieke Bal defines narratology as “the theory of narrative texts. A theory is a systematic set of generalized statements about a particular...

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TWO. Putting the Fiction Back Into Arundhati Roy

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pp. 49-65

For Peter Hitchcock, the postcolonial condition fi nds expression in the genre of the novel; it is this genre of postcoloniality that uncovers “the lie of colonialism” (“The Genre of Postcoloniality,” 326) and at the same time questions the very category of the novel as a genre. Thus the novel both threatens its own erasure as a genre—those “divisions that have produced it” (327)—and, given...

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THREE. History as Handmaiden to Fiction in Amitav Ghosh

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pp. 66-85

Salman Rushdie identifies a narrative impulse to invent “imaginary homelands” that springs from loss. In response to “talk about Third World novels as essentially about nation and nation building,” Amitav Ghosh highlights the family as the “central imaginative unit” in his fictions (Aldama, “An Interview with Amitav Ghosh,”...

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FOUR. Fictional World Making in Zadie Smith and Hari Kunzru

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pp. 86-106

In U.S. borderland and postcolonial theories of literature, much critical debate and discussion swarm around the issue of representation. Some consider the novel, as opposed to the prose poem, a more appropriate form for narrativizing postcoloniality or ethnicity, that one is more able to “strike back” against a Western...

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FIVE. This Is Your Brain on Latino Comics

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pp. 107-134

Historically, few Latino superheroes have appeared in mainstream comic book worlds. The Latino comic book author-artists working today simply enjoy the other worlds the mainstream comics present. Many consider such mainstream characters, settings, and adventures as escapes from their very real and ragged everyday environs. Not surprisingly, such...

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SIX. Reading the Latino Borderland Short Story

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pp. 135-154

There is a tradition of Latino borderland short story writing in the United States—a rather sparse tradition formed not always by the choice of the authors involved. Until the 1980s many Chicano authors were one way or another directed to publish in magazines and journals. Editors considered Chicano authors unskilled...


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pp. 155-168

Works Cited

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pp. 169-182


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pp. 183-198

E-ISBN-13: 9780292799172
E-ISBN-10: 0292799179
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292719682
Print-ISBN-10: 029271968X

Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2009

Series Title: Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Series in Latin American and Latino Art and Culture
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OCLC Number: 451488055
MUSE Marc Record: Download for A User's Guide to Postcolonial and Latino Borderland Fiction

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Commonwealth fiction (English) -- History and criticism.
  • English fiction -- Minority authors -- History and criticism.
  • Postcolonialism in literature.
  • Fiction -- History and criticism -- Theory, etc.
  • American fiction -- Mexican American authors -- History and criticism.
  • Narration (Rhetoric).
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