Literary Criticism

Excellence in Scholarship and Learning


Contemporary Central American Fiction

Gender, Subjectivity and Affect

Jeffrey Browitt is associate professor of Latin American Studies at the University of Technology Sydney. He has previously taught at Monash University, Melbourne and the University of the West Indies, Barbados. He is the author of numerous scholarly articles and books on Latin American literary and cultural studies and is a translator. His published works include Contemporary Cultural Theory (2002, with A. Milner), Rubén Darío: cosmopolita arraigado (2010, with W. Mackenbach), and two major translations with Nidia Castrillón: Disciplinar a los salvajes, violentar las disciplinas (2014); and A New Catechism for Recalcitrant Indians (2007).

This book is a series of original, critical meditations on short stories and novels from Central America between 1995 and 2016. During the Cold War, literary art in Central America, as in Latin America in general, was strongly over-determined by the politics of the Cold War, which gave rise to popular struggle and three major armed civil wars in the 1970s and 1980s in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala. The period produced intense literary activity with political ideology central, personified by social denunciation in the testimonial novel and revolutionary poetry. Since then, though themes of violence are still at much of its core, Central American fiction has become more complex. We have witnessed a resurgence of literary writing and criticism with a focus squarely on the artistic side of narrative art: writing aware of its own figurative manoeuvres and inventiveness, its philosophical and affective dimensions, and its carefully crafted syntax. This collection of essays by Jeffrey Browitt attempts to trace some of the contours of this new literature and the contemporary subjectivities of its writers through close readings of Guatemala’s Rodrigo Rey Rosa, Eduardo Halfon and Denise Phé-Funchal; Nicaragua’s Franz Galich and Sergio Ramírez; Belize’s David Ruiz Puga; El Salvador’s Jacinta Escudos and Claudia Hernández; and Costa Rica’s Carlos Cortés. Key themes are gender, subjectivity and affect as these intersect with the deconstruction of the family, hegemonic masculinity, motherhood, revolutionary romanticism, and the relationship of humans with animals.

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-860-2
Hardback Price: £50.00 / $64.95
Release Date: November 2017
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-84519-914-2
Paperback Price: £25.00 / $34.95
Release Date: May 2018
Page Extent / Format: 224 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: No


A note on translations



PART I Exorcizing the National/Revolutionary Subject

Chapter 1 
With Crystalline Drops of Imperial Jade: David Ruiz Puga’s Got seif de Cuin!

Chapter 2 
Nicaragua as a Novel: Sergio Ramírez’s Margarita, está linda la mar

Chapter 3
The Detritus of a Revolution in Ruins: Franz Galich’s Managua, Salsa City

PART 2 Traumatic Masculinities and Fantasmatic Fathers

Chapter 4
The Sacrificial Economy and the Question of the Anthropocene in Rodrigo Rey Rosa’s ‘Gracia’

Chapter 5
The Boy in the Bubble: Eduardo Halfon’s Manaña nunca lo hablamos

Chapter 6
Carlos Cortés’ Larga noche hacia mi madre: The Labyrinth of the Past

 PART III Gendered Bodies and Affects

Chapter 7
The Difficulty in Burying the Dead: Claudia Hernández’s De fronteras

Chapter 8
Love and Sex in Times of Disenchantment: Reading Jacinta Escudos

Chapter 9
Chronicle of a Suicide Foretold:Denise Phé-Funchal’s Ana sonríe


Browitt’s study proposes creative readings and interpretations of what he calls his ‘affective corpus,’ a collection of Central American short stories and novels written by male and female authors. The book explores what is left after the collapse, failure, and breakdown of patriarchal logic/thought in the public and private sphere, that is, bodies and affects. Truly innovative and an untouched territory in Central American literary criticism, Browitt complements this concentration on affects with a fine aesthetic sensibility, remaining receptive to the texts’ literary quality and depth, to textual whisperings that prevent closure. Browitt delivers a complex and impassioned reading of texts that should be of outmost interest to students and critics of Central American literature.
Magdalena Perkowska, Professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies, Graduate Center, Hunter College CUNY

This book takes a fresh look at post-civil war Central American fiction of the last two decades. Browitt grasps the aesthetic registers that take us beyond the alienation of its characters to a range of post-national, fluid and nomadic sensibilities that defy or elude the failed heroic agency of the immediate past. The great value of this book is to witness the artful sensibility of the critic, who acknowledges and centers on the affect that these works generate. His readings are a reminder that art is not simply a reference to prevailing ideological interpretations of reality but a mobilizer of different imaginaries and sensibilities within ourselves.
George Yudice, Professor of Latin American Studies, University of Miami

The author analyzes short stories and novels from Central America (Guatemala, Nicaragua, Belize, El Salvador, and Costa Rica) written between 1995 and 2016: David Ruiz Puga’s Got seif de Cuin!, Sergio Ramirez’s Margarita, está linda la mar, Franz Galich’s Managua, Salsa City, Rodrigo Rey Rosa’s “Gracia,” Eduardo Halfo’s Manaña nunca lo hablamos, Carlos Cortés’ Larga noche hacia mi madre, Claudia Hernández’s De fronteras, the works of Jacinta Escudos, and Denise Phé-Funchal’s Ana sondíe. He considers their themes of gender, sexuality, nation, family, hegemonic masculinity, motherhood, revolutionary romanticism, and the relationship of humans with animals, as well as elements of horror, urban alienation, emptiness, isolation, the loss of self, love and despair, vulnerability, the fear of violence, and moments of beauty.

Browitt (Univ. of Technology Sydney, Australia) examines selected short stories and novels published by nine Central American writers between 1995 and 2016. He focuses in particular on literature by mestizo writers, and (as he acknowledges) he does not include the works of indigenous, Africa descendant, and queer authors, whose textual productions have signaled another important literary movement in the region. The six chapters in the first two parts examine the literary productions of David Ruiz Puga (Belize), Sergio Ramírez (Nicaragua), Franz Galich (Guatemala), Rodrigo Rey Rosa (Guatemala), Eduardo Halfon (Guatemala), and Carlos Cortés (Costa Rica). The three chapters in the concluding section analyze literary work by Claudia Hernández (El Salvador), Jacinta Escudos (El Salvador), and Denise Phé-Funchal (Guatemala). Browitt argues that the newer postwar texts challenge the revolutionary romanticism as well as the political ideology found in literary productions of the civil war period. Browitt attempts to map the literary shifts created during the postwar and neo-liberal periods, suggesting that more complex constructions of subjectivity, violence, affect, gender, and family are articulated in the texts he examines.
Reviewed by A. I. Estrada, California State University-Northridge, in Choice

In one of the few English-language works to deal with Central American fiction, Browitt considers works by authors from the region who have published from the last decade of the twentieth century onwards. Each chapter begins with a potted biography and bibliography of the author in question, which is immensely useful for those wishing to read this book as a jumping off point for further study of literature from the isthmus … an excellent introduction into some well- and lesser-known contemporary authors from this little-studied region within Latin America.
Reviewed by Liz Harvey-Kattou in Bulletin of Spanish Studies, Vol. XCVI, 2019

Books can be ordered by phone or online

Ordering in the UK, Europe, Asia, Australasia, South America and Rest of the World

Gazelle Book Services
Direct sales tel.: +44 (0)1524 528500; email:
Web ordering:

Ordering in the United States and Canada
Independent Publishers Group (IPG)
Direct sales tel.: (800) 888-4741
Web ordering:

Bookseller Ordering
Information is provided under the Resources tab.

eBook Ordering
e-Book type availability can be sourced via by book title. Kindle availability is via Amazon .com and sites.