Literary Criticism

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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
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, Associate Professor 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

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