Those who have been following my blog know that I have just embarked on a series of posts profiling the Latin American authors who have either influenced me in some way or whose books have made some sort of impact. The history of Latin American fiction is just as rich as its history (and unfortunately as little known in the United States as the other). Sometimes Latin America’s fiction and its history intertwine and one cannot truly be appreciated without the other. However most of the authors that I will be profiling in that series are from another time and place - most of them from the 1960s - 1970s - when there was a “boom” in creativity among Latin American authors and fiction (not to mention the visual arts as well). The Future Is Not Ours: New Latin American Fiction is a brilliant anthology of a new generation of Latin American authors and fiction which, like their predecessors, is firmly rooted to its time and place.
The authors presented in this anthology are all young (or young-ish), all of them born while the original “boom” was taking place and thereafter, so while you can clearly see the influence of those who came before them, their sensibility is purely contemporary, and I have to say that many of these authors are just as original and as creative as their predecessors. They give their fiction a new, contemporary twist which extends way beyond the Latin American influences and culture, giving it all a more “global” reach. Some of these authors I have heard of before, most of them I haven’t, which is always a great thing because anthologies such as this often introduce me to a new author’s work. All of the stories contained within this anthology are fairly recent - most within the past decade or so - and span the entirety of Latin America: from South America to the Caribbean. It is the perfect anthology for those who are interested in seeking out the new generation of Latin American writing.
These authors include: Oliverio Coelho (Argentina), Federico Falco (Argentina), Samanta Schweblin (Argentina), Giovanna Rivero (Bolivia), Santiago Nazarian (Brazil), Antonio Ungar (Colombia), Juan Gabriel Vazquez (Colombia), Ena Lucia Portela (Cuba), Andrea Jeftanovic (Chile), Lina Meruane (Chile), Alejandro Zambra (Chile), Ronald Flores (Guatemala), Tryno Maldonado (Mexico), Antonio Ortuno (Mexico), Maria del Carmen Perez Cuadra (Nicaragua), Carlos Wynter Melo (Panama), Daniel Alarcon (Peru), Santiago Roncagliolo (Peru), Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro (Puerto Rico), Ariadna Vasquez (Dominican Republic), Ignacio Alcuri (Uruguay), Ines Bortagaray (Uruguay) and Slavko Zupcic (Venezuela).
The brilliance of many of these stories are not only the new direction this new generation of Latin American authors are taking fiction but where they are taking the art of the short story in general. There are some very interesting experiments taking place here, some which, in my opinion, are moving the short story itself into new and interesting directions. And the variety of subject matter and influences are also giving these stories - and their creators - their own distinctive stamp. Highlights, for me, include Daniel Alarcon’s Lima, Peru - July 28th 1979, a harrowing account of the beginnings of a revolutionary group, modeled on Peru’s Shining Path; Juan Gabriel Vasquez’s The Last Corrido, a story about a magazine writer following a Mexican corrido band on a tour through Spain; Ariadna Vasquez’s Shipwrecked on Nexos, a young female drug dealer who lives in an apartment over a mysterious and interesting neighbor obsessed with myths and Greek classics; Lina Meruane’s Razor Blades, a highly charged tale of erotica about a group of boarding school girls who discover the pleasures of shaving themselves; Samanta Schweblin’s Out On The Steppes, a loss-of-innocence story set in rural Argentina; and Yolanda Arroyo Pizzaro’s highly disturbing Pillage which is just as much mysterious and surreal as it is disturbing.
This is a fantastic anthology for those interested in the new directions Latin American writing is taking and it’s great to see that while there is respect payed to “the masters”, they are all clearly going their own way, drawing on their own influences and experience. A must read. Highly recommended.