[Home] [Current Tables of Contents]

[ HLAS Online Home Page | Search HLAS Online | Help | FAQ | Comments ]

Volume 52 / Humanities


20th Century Prose Fiction: Hispanic Caribbean

CARLOS R. HORTAS, Dean of Humanities and the Arts, Hunter College-City University of New York
ENRIQUE SACERIO-GARI, Associate Professor of Spanish, Bryn Mawr College

THE WORKS REVIEWED DURING the past few years for this section reflect the socio-political confrontations that have faced the Caribbean for decades: individual freedoms, national sovereignty, Cuban diaspora, Puerto Rican identity. As no two Cuban jazzmen, or Caribbean bands, play the same tune in exactly the same way, writers and their critics interpret the region with different instruments. While Arturo Sandoval "flies to freedom" with his trumpet and enters the international market, Gonzalo Rubalcaba makes a guest appearance at the piano at the Montreux in Switzerland, but returns to a Cuba forever in crisis. Many of Cuba's best writers live abroad and would like their native land's long struggle for freedom to succeed by ending Communist intransigence. The best hope in and out of Cuba is not for free-market trumpeting nor for protectionist chords but for a true reconciliation that would lead to independence from all blocs. And the rest is literature or history.... And yet, now that a transition seems certain (inevitable) for Cuba's socialist regime, we could speculate about the things to come if not about a period gone by.

Many bibliographic sources now available for the study of Cuban prose writers can be found in Julio Martínez's Fuentes bibliográficas para el estudio de la literatura cubana moderna (item bi 90003541). One wonders about the value of "Relaciones Culturales Soviético-Cubanas: ¿Cómo Serán?" (item bi 90010689). If the latter reflects the traditional Cuban preference for mutually controlled exchange, the former points the way for scholars who wish to investigate the complex reality of Cuban literature, beyond ideological partisanship.

The listings which follow capture the transnational nature of the Hispanic Caribbean. For Reinaldo Arenas (item bi 91003706) this theme is represented by a doorman between worlds in Manhattan; for many Dominicans the tales revolve around the key year 1965, when US marines moved across their land.

With steady perseverance, specialists in Cuban literature have produced monographs on individual authors (items bi 89008996, bi 89009066, bi 91003710, bi 91003747, bi 91010016 and bi 90010639) and movements (item bi 91003702), as well as the studies of the position and disposition of the wider Cuban text (item bi 91003711). For a discerning analysis of discourse and counter-discourse in antislavery narratives, see William Luis' Literary bondage: slavery in Cuban narrative (item bi 90006556). Pamela M. Smorkaloff's Literatura y edición de libros: la cultura literaria y el proceso social en Cuba (item bi 91003726) offers us an informative social history of book production in Cuba.

The literary and critical dreams of the Cuban Revolution produce testimonies and distressing affidavits. Miguel Barnet's "testimonial" contribution continues to receive critical attention and the high praise it deserves. Too often, Cuban controversy about critical discourse appears to be either ideological knee-jerking or consumed by a normative code of behavior (e.g., see Desiderio Navarro's "La Teoría y la Crítica Literarias: También una Cuestión Moral," item bi 90009786, and the assessment of the situation from abroad in items bi 90001387, bi 90001388, bi 90002575, bi 91006835 and bi 91006837). Severo Sarduy and Guillermo Cabrera Infante command universal critical attention outside Cuba. Lezama Lima and Carpentier now rule in all camps.

The modes of narration by Dominican writers and the manner in which the history of the Republic should be told are also subject to intense scrutiny in Neil Larson's "¿Cómo Narrar el Trujillato?" (item bi 89004813) and Efraín Barradas' "La Seducción de las Máscaras..." (item bi 89004804). Jenny Montero's La cuentística dominicana (item bi 91003723) and Bruno Rosario Candelier's Tendencias de la novela dominicana (item bi 91003718) are valuable essays on the Dominican short story and novel. The best work of fiction (item bi 90004615) and criticism (item bi 91001505) belong to the same person: José Alcántara Almánzar.

In the last few years Puerto Rican writers and critics have continued to publish critical editions of classic works of Puerto Rican literature. Socorro Girón's edition of Bonafoux's Ultramarinos (item bi 90005202) and Carmen I. Marxuach's edition of Zeno Gandías La charca (item bi 90005219) exemplify this trend. Never at a loss for essays which analyze and examine Puerto Rican life and mores, political and national identity, consumerism and the media, we have annotated below two particularly valuable collections of essays, El tramo ancla (item bi 90005206) and Images and identities (item bi 90005203). These essays are authored by writers of the moment who offer valuable insight and analysis of contemporary life and letters in Puerto Rico and of Puerto Rican life on the US mainland. We continue to see promising new writers each year who come forth with interesting contributions to the island's prose fiction. This year we particularly note the short stories of Luis López Nieves (item bi 90005210) and the recent novel of Edgardo Jusino Campos (item bi 90005222). Among the island's women writers, Rosario Ferré (item bi 92014422) has become a literary elder stateswoman of sorts, and continues to lead the way for others. Reclaiming Medusa (item bi 92012840), edited by Diana Vélez, is a good collection of short fiction by the island's best women writers.

Go to the:

Begin a Basic Search | Begin an Expert Search

[ HLAS Online Home Page | Search HLAS Online | Help | FAQ | Comments ]

Library of Congress
Comments: Ask a Librarian (01/04/05)