- Beyong Bolaño: The Global Latin American Novel by Héctor Hoyos
To read Bolaño is, unavoidably, to read beyond Bolaño and Héctor Hoyos knows this very well. Beyond Bolaño: The Global Latin American Novel moves through Bolaño so as to go beyond him, to “narratives of the global” embodied in the post-1989 “global Latin American novel,” which conceptualizes and problematizes “globality” from a multiplicity of perspectives. For Hoyos, Bolaño’s The Savage Detectives is not only the internationally best known instance of this novelistic form, but also the ideal point of departure for a greater investigation into what has become a widespread formal disposition of contemporary Latin American literature. Hoyos’s objects of study—penned by a diverse cast of characters that spans from Bolaño to Diamela Eltit, Alberto Fuguet, Mario Bellatin, Fernando Vallejo, César Aira and Chico Buarque—are works that, like Chilean author’s previously mentioned novel, not only represent, but also and more importantly consolidate both the world and Latin America as their horizon and chamber of resonance. For the author, these novels offer a critique of hegemonic ideologies of globalization and, in the best of cases, a paradoxical articulation of the global as a whole that destabilizes and reveals world consciousness.
A critical interrogation of the field of “world literature” from the perspective of Latinamericanism frames Hoyos’s study. He understands world literature as a critical movement that attempts to consolidate a transnational canon in the contemporary age of globalization. In this sense, it is an “ism” (“worldliteraturism,” Hoyos calls it), which imagines itself as an organizing principle for literature and literary criticism and seeks to rise above linguistic, national, regional, and genealogical categories. But Hoyos is not interested in simply claiming a world-literary status for Latin American literatures. His engagement with the field of world literature stems from literary works which inscribe themselves in the global and offer “literary representations of the world” that question and problematize the rules which organize the category and its drive towards transnational literary consolidation. These works, he believes, think the experience of globalization and situate themselves beyond the boundaries of national literatures through counterfactual exercises that denaturalize the global and articulate it under the sign of negativity. Moreover, they theorize the global, the “world,” and the status of literature in the world.
In order to make a space for these works in the field of world literature, Hoyos proposes a methodology characterized by what he calls “critical hospitality.” This approach proceeds by making the emergent academic fields of “wordliteraturism” and that of Latinamericanism bear upon each other in a contrapuntal fashion. The resulting Latin American-inflected vision of world literature can draw and benefit from what Hoyos sees as Latinamericanism’s long tradition of a praxis of multiple positionalities. A praxis capable of “generating discourse about a complex region, rich in particularities, while also accounting for the commonalities”—a project which mirrors that of world literature and which would not reproduce globalization’s drive to cultural homogenization (10). Hoyos’s Latin Americanist [End Page 204] approach is, of course, explicitly partial, but so are the approaches to world literature that present themselves as disembodied and ecumenical. Through his gesture, Hoyos seeks to counteract the political apathy that he believes characterizes certain hegemonic trends of world literature, politicizing the paradigm and bringing it closer to the texts themselves.
That said, Hoyos’s Beyond Bolaño does not entail the performance of its proposal for a Latin Americanist “world-literaturist” criticism per se. Instead, its body chapters are firmly grounded in a regional taxonomy of the global Latin American novel, and proceed by breaking down the genre into five key, but not exhaustive, continental “developments”: the Nazi novel, the novel of South-South escapism, the novel about the supermarket, the novel about the narco, and the “art statement” novel. By studying these formal variations, Hoyos shows how their different authors negotiate, capture, reproduce, counter, affect, or are affected by the ideologies of globalization.