30 abr. 2011

Boom

Part of what interested me in when I was first learning Spanish was the Latin American "boom." Naturally, since it was the late 1970s. These were novelists like García Márquez, Cortázar, Vargas Llosa, Fuentes, etc... who began to appear in English translation in the 1960s. Many of them had been published in Spain, where I believe the name of "boom" started to be used.

The boom caused a big inferiority complex in Spain, because Spanish writers did not have as rich a language or repertory of narrative technique. The Latin Americans were building on previous generation of narrators like Rulfo, Borges, and Carpentier. Only Juan Goytisolo was able to make the transition from the dull social realism of the 1950s. The novel also seemed to put poetry in the shadows. After Neruda and Vallejo, Paz and Lezama Lima, the Latin American poetry of the later generation could not compete with novels of GGM or Vargas Llosa.

Now all of this is completely false. This is only one possible way of perceiving, making sense of, a much more complex reality. First of all, a lot of the "boom" has not held up very well. It seems a bit artificial to elevate a few writers who are not necessarily all that great, just because they happen to have become famous at a particular historical juncture.

***

(Ernesto Sábato has died at age 99.)

4 comentarios:

Spanish prof dijo...

If you are including Sabato in the novelists of the boom, I don't think he deserves it. He was a mediocre writer and an awful person, despite his public persona (literary circles are small everywhere).

Despite his latests books, my favorite writer of the period was Donoso, who himself felt excluded and pretty envious for not achieving the notoriety of Garcia Marquez and Vargas Llosa.

Jonathan dijo...

I didn't know he was an awful person, never having heard that. His writing is mediocre, I agree, but I didn't know that the 'boom" was an honorific categorization. There are plenty of mediocre writers in the boom. He' a bit older than the boom writers.

Donoso's Obsceno pájaro de la noche is briliant, but I tried to read a more recent novel by him and it was awful.

Spanish prof dijo...

I guess I shouldn't have use the verb "deserve". But we agree on the rest.
Reading "El Obsceno Pajaro de la Noche", "El lugar sin limites" and "Coronacion" have always given me more pleasure than anything by Garcia Marquez.

Clarissa dijo...

Sabato may not have been a genius but if I had to recommend a single Latin American novel for somebody to read, I would recommend El tunel. It offers a very powerful insight into the nature of machismo. It isn't often that a writer manages to do that.