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Literature > Latin American and Caribbean Literature

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Dragons in the Land of the Condor

Writing Tusán in Peru

Ignacio López-Calvo, Foreword by Eugenio Chang-Rodríguez

Building on his 2013 study on Nikkei cultural production in Peru, in Dragons in the Land of the Condor Ignacio López-Calvo studies the influence of a Chinese ethnic background in the writing of several twentieth- and twenty-first-century Sino-Peruvian authors.

While authors like Siu Kam Wen and Julia Wong often rely on their Chinese cultural heritage for inspiration, many others, like Pedro Zulen, Mario Wong, and Julio Villanueva Chang, choose other sources of inspiration and identification. López-Calvo studies the different strategies used by these writers to claim either their belonging in the Peruvian national project or their difference as a minority ethnic group within Peru. Whether defending the rights of indigenous Peruvians, revealing the intricacies of a life of self-exploitation among Chinese shopkeepers, exploring their identitarian dilemmas, or re-creating—beyond racial memory—life under the political violence in Lima of the 1980s, these authors provide their community with a voice and a collective agency, while concomitantly repositioning contemporary Peruvian culture as transnational.

López-Calvo bridges from his earlier study of Peruvian Nikkei’s testimonials and literature and raises this question: why are Chinese Peruvian authors seemingly more disconnected from their Asian heritage than Japanese Peruvian authors from theirs? The author argues that the Chinese arrival in Peru half a century earlier influenced a stronger identification with the criollo world. Yet he argues that this situation may soon be changing as the new geopolitical and economic influence of the People’s Republic of China in the world, particularly in Latin America and the Caribbean, affects the way Chinese and Sino–Latin American communities and their cultures are produced and perceived.

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Duvalier's Ghosts

Race, Diaspora, and U.S. Imperialism in Haitian Literatures

Jana Evans Braziel

From a position of urgent political engagement, this provocative book offers novel and compelling interpretations of several well-known Haitian-born authors, particularly regarding U.S. intervention in their homeland.

Drawing on the diasporic cultural texts of several authors, such as Edwidge Danticat and Dany Laferrière, Jana Evans Braziel examines how writers participate in transnational movements for global social justice. In their fictional works they discuss the Unites States’ many interventionist methods in Haiti, including surveillance, foreign aid, and military assistance. Through their work, they reveal that the majority of Haitians do not welcome these intrusions and actively criticize U.S. treatment of Haitians in both countries.

Braziel encourages us to analyze the instability and violence of small nations like Haiti within the larger frame of international financial and military institutions and forms of imperialism. She forcefully argues that by reading these works as anti-imperialist, much can be learned about why Haitians and Haitian exiles often have negative perceptions of the U.S.

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Early Spanish American Narrative

By Naomi Lindstrom

The world discovered Latin American literature in the twentieth century, but the roots of this rich literary tradition reach back beyond Columbus’s discovery of the New World. The great pre-Hispanic civilizations composed narrative accounts of the acts of gods and kings. Conquistadors and friars, as well as their Amerindian subjects, recorded the clash of cultures that followed the Spanish conquest. Three hundred years of colonization and the struggle for independence gave rise to a diverse body of literature—including the novel, which flourished in the second half of the nineteenth century. To give everyone interested in contemporary Spanish American fiction a broad understanding of its literary antecedents, this book offers an authoritative survey of four centuries of Spanish American narrative. Naomi Lindstrom begins with Amerindian narratives and moves forward chronologically through the conquest and colonial eras, the wars for independence, and the nineteenth century. She focuses on the trends and movements that characterized the development of prose narrative in Spanish America, with incisive discussions of representative works from each era. Her inclusion of women and Amerindian authors who have been downplayed in other survey works, as well as her overview of recent critical assessments of early Spanish American narratives, makes this book especially useful for college students and professors.

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Ecological Imaginations in Latin American Fiction

Laura Barbas-Rhoden

From the rainforests of Costa Rica and the Amazon to the windswept lands of Tierra del Fuego, Laura Barbas-Rhoden discusses the natural settings within contemporary Latin American novels as they depict key moments of environmental change or crisis in the region from the nineteenth-century imperialism to the present.

By integrating the use of futuristic novels, Barbas-Rhoden pushes the ecocriticism discussion beyond the realm of "nature writing." She avoids the clichés of literary nature and reminds readers that today’s urban centers are also part of Latin America and its environmental crisis.

One of the first writers to apply ecocriticism to Latin American fiction, Barbas-Rhoden argues that literature can offer readers a deeper understanding of the natural world and humanity’s place in it. She demonstrates that ecocritical readings of Latin American topics must take into account social, racial, and gender injustices. She also addresses postapocalyptic science fiction that speaks to a fear of environmental collapse and reminds North American readers that the environments of Latin America are rich and diverse, encompassing both rural and urban extremes.

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Elusive Origins

The Enlightenment in the Modern Caribbean Historical Imagination

Kant's definition of the Enlightenment as an emergence of humanity from its self-incurred immaturity begs a number of questions, argues Paul Miller, when seen through the lens of the modern Caribbean historical imagination. It yields a set of structural paradoxes that trap the Caribbean writer in the binary tensions of center/periphery, master/slave, leaders/masses, rendering the origins of the Caribbean's own modernity "elusive."

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Eric Williams and the Anticolonial Tradition

The Making of a Diasporan Intellectual

Maurice St. Pierre

A leader in the social movement that achieved Trinidad and Tobago’s independence from Britain in 1962, Eric Williams (1911–1981) served as its first prime minister. Although much has been written about Williams as a historian and a politician, Maurice St. Pierre is the first to offer a full-length treatment of him as an intellectual. St. Pierre focuses on Williams's role not only in challenging the colonial exploitation of Trinbagonians but also in seeking to educate and mobilize them in an effort to generate a collective identity in the struggle for independence. Drawing on extensive archival research and using a conflated theoretical framework, the author offers a portrait of Williams that shows how his experiences in Trinidad, England, and America radicalized him and how his relationships with other Caribbean intellectuals—along with Aimé Césaire in Martinique, Juan Bosch in the Dominican Republic, George Lamming of Barbados, and Frantz Fanon from Martinique—enabled him to seize opportunities for social change and make a significant contribution to Caribbean epistemology.

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Exhibiting Slavery

The Caribbean Postmodern Novel as Museum

Vivian Nun Halloran

In a strikingly interdisciplinary and multilingual analysis of Caribbean postmodern historical novels about slavery alongside museum exhibitions about slavery throughout the Caribbean and the US, Vivian Halloran shows how the novels as well as the exhibits seek to educate their audiences about reconstructing the past from fragmented evidence and relating historical memory and collective mourning in the creation of narratives about that past. The literary and museum portrayals work together in confronting the trauma of slavery in much the same way as Holocaust memorials, fiction, and film confront the trauma of genocide.

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Family Matters

Puerto Rican Women Authors on the Island and the Mainland

Marisel C. Moreno

Adopting a comparative and multidisciplinary approach to Puerto Rican literature, Marisel Moreno juxtaposes narratives by insular and U.S. Puerto Rican women authors in order to examine their convergences and divergences. By showing how these writers use the trope of family to question the tenets of racial and social harmony, an idealized past, and patriarchal authority that sustain the foundational myth of la gran familia, she argues that this metaphor constitutes an overlooked literary contact zone between narratives from both sides. Moreno proposes the recognition of a "transinsular" corpus to reflect the increasingly transnational character of the Puerto Rican population and addresses the need to broaden the literary canon in order to include the diaspora. Drawing on the fields of historiography, cultural studies, and gender studies, the author defies the tendency to examine these literary bodies independently of one another and therefore aims to present a more nuanced and holistic vision of this literature.

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Fictions of the Bad Life

The Naturalist Prostitute and Her Avatars in Latin American Literature, 1880–2010

The first comprehensive and interdisciplinary study of the prostitute in Latin American literature, Claire Thora Solomon’s book The Naturalist Prostitute and Her Avatars in Latin American Literature, 1880–2010 shows the gender, ethnic, and racial identities that emerge in the literary figure of the prostitute during the consolidation of modern Latin American states in the late nineteenth century in the literary genre of Naturalism. Solomon first examines how legal, medical, and philosophical thought converged in Naturalist literature of prostitution. She then traces the persistence of these styles, themes, and stereotypes about women, sex, ethnicity, and race in the twentieth and twenty-first century literature with a particular emphasis on the historical fiction of prostitution and its selective reconstruction of the past. Fictions of the Bad Life illustrates how at very different moments—the turn of the twentieth century, the 1920s–30s, and finally the turn of the twenty-first century—the past is rewritten to accommodate contemporary desires for historical belonging and national identity, even as these efforts inevitably re-inscribe the repressed colonial history they wish to change.

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Fictions of Totality

The Mexican Novel, 1968, and the National-Popular State

by Ryan F. Long

The Mexican government's brutal repression of the Student Movement of 1968 in the infamous Massacre of Tlatelolco exposed and exacerbated a serious crisis of political legitimacy. This study examines the cultural impact of this watershed event through historically contextualized readings of five paradigmatic novels: Carlos Fuentes's La region mas transparente (1958), Fernando del Paso's Jose Trigo (1966), Maria Luisa Mendoza's Con el, conmigo, con nosotros tres (1971), Jorge Aguilar Mora's Si muero lejos de ti (1979), and Hector Aguilar Camin's Morir en el golfo (1986).

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