Literary Criticism

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Central American Fiction in the 21st Century

Jeffrey Browitt is associate professor of Latin American Studies at the University of Technology Sydney. He is the author of numerous scholarly articles and books on Latin American literary and cultural studies. Cicatrices is a companion volume to Contemporary Central American Fiction: Gender, Subjectivity and Affect (2017) – “Browitt delivers a complex and impassioned reading of texts that should be of outmost interest to students and critics of Central American literature” (Professor Magdalena Perkowska, Spanish and Latin American Studies, Graduate Center, Hunter College CUNY)

Cicatrices provides an understanding of the mood in Central American fiction over the last five years. Many recent novels and short stories are aesthetic responses to a difficult social, political and economic landscape dominated by neoliberal adjustment, drug trafficking, corruption and the struggle to establish fully democratic societies. Herein is a mix of male and female authors spread across five Central American countries: Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Honduras. Thematic unity is provided by nomadism, migration and the inability to leave behind a violent past of armed conflict that bleeds into the present – scars that won’t heal. An atmosphere of survival, exhaustion, dissipation and decay (in both the physical and moral sense) dominates, but also rays of hope: the writers testify to the triumph of the spirit as much as to its destruction.

This vibrant literature speaks of existential crisis in a context of social precarity and lack of opportunity as people dis-embedded by civil war and its aftermath seek release and fulfillment through migration across borders into neighbouring countries or north to the United States or Europe. Whether external or internal, self-imposed or forced, migration brings in train the problem of mal-adaptation to new worlds and struggles with memory – an aesthetics of loss and solitude. Various narrative strategies are adopted to try to account for this contemporary social reality, including crime fiction as critical realism, as well as auto-fiction.

Works analysed
Dante Liano (Guatemala), El abogado y la señora (2015, The Lawyer and the Lady)
Vania Vargas (Guatemala), Después del fin (2016, After the End)
Miguel Huezo-Mixco (El Salvador), La casa de Moravia (2017, The House in Moravia
Claudia Hernández (El Salvador) Roza, tumba, quema (2017, Slash and Burn)
Horacio Castellanos Moya (El Salvador), Moronga (2018, Blood Sausage)
Daniel Quirós (Costa Rica), Lluvia del norte (2014, Rain from the North)
Sergio Ramírez (Nicaragua), Ya nadie llora por mí (2017, Nobody Cries for Me Anymore)
Catalina Murillo (Costa Rica), Tiembla memoria (2016, Tremble, Memory)
Giovanni Rodríguez (Honduras), Los días y los muertos (2015, The Days and the Dead)

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-974-6
Hardback Price: £50.00 / $64.95
Release Date: January 2020
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-84519-998-2
Paperback Price: £25.00 / $34.95
Release Date: January 2020
Page Extent / Format: 176 pp. 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: No



Translation Note

1. ‘So they buried you here’: Dante Liano’s El abogado y la señora

2. The Rabid City: Vania Vargas’s Después del fin

3. Miguel Huezo-Mixco’s La casa de Moravia: Down the Rabbit Hole of Revolution

4. The Ties That Bind in Claudia Hernández’s Roza tumba quema

5. Unforgiven: Memory and Guilt in Horacio Castellanos Moya’s Moronga

6. The Migrant Body in Daniel Quirós’s Lluvia del norte

7. Sergio Ramírez’s Ya nadie llora por mí: Fiction as Political Revenge

8. Por estas calles furiosas:Giovanni Rodríguez’s Los días y los muertos

9. Love and the Inner Exile in Catalina Murillo’s Tiemba, memoria


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