Saturday, April 10, 2010

Flipping the coin.

The most interesting part of this course for me has come at the end with the comparison of McOndo and Macondo. As a HUGE fan of magical realism, I was at first thrown off with the mission statement of McOndo's editors.....Why would they want to criticize such a beautiful genre of writing? But after reading a few of the stories within the collaborative work, I realize that they are right: Latin America was being stereotyped, and in a big way. Reading the works of authors who are young, innovative, and not well-known is always an eye-opening event. I certainly didn't enjoy all of them that I read (ie: "Mi estado físico"....sorry, boring), but on the whole they delved into a Latin America that we don't usually see, but that we can all relate to. Why? Because it is a world almost identical to ours.

McOndo dances around with the idea of globalization. It's ironic that they were searching for the true flavour of Latin American literature, and ended up with an interrelation of all things human. Well, maybe not ALL things human....

I say this because I was surprised at the utter lack of female author representation in McOndo. What does this tell us? That Latin America does not have female writers? That their work is sub-par? That they are not supported? Clearly, Latin America has female writers (many of them celebrated...although we know Jon's thoughts on Laura Esquivel!) The last scenario is perhaps more the case. Where are these unsupported, unknown female writers, and why didn't McOndo track them down in order to add them to the shortlist of young and upcoming Latin American writers? Now, I'm not a feminist or on a mission to bring Latin American women into the limelight for whatever their achievements in writing are (ah, ignorance on that subject!); but c'mon editors, let's not be too one-sided here! Show the world all of the identities enveloped in that phrase of "Latin American Writers".

Overall, this course was a pleasure. It has piqued my interest in magical realism and provided background and insight into its method and symbolism. Once again, rounding the course out with a book dedicated to changing the perspective on Latin American writing was an engaging concept. I may still attribute some of the best magical realism out there to the writers of Latin America, but at least now I have witnessed the other side of that coin.


  1. Yes, the failure to find even a single woman author to contribute to McOndo was rather a poor show; and it doesn't really make it better that they note in the introduction that it's a problem.

    Of course, in Latin America gender hierarchies are on the whole that much more entrenched than in many other places in the world. But there are indeed plenty of women authors, many of them interesting (others less so, but they're not all like Laura Esquivel!).

    Meanwhile, you mention globalization. There's something of an irony that the McOndo editors position themselves as part of a globalized world when in fact in many ways it was the Boom authors who were first distinctive for the international literary success that they achieved. The Boom was certainly a global(ized) phenomenon, and perhaps magical realism was particularly taken up elsewhere, for instance by the likes of Salman Rushdie.

    But Fuguet and Gómez's point is that the price that Boom authors paid (and that the younger generation is still paying) is that they have to write in a certain ("magical") style in order to hold the attention of a global readership.

    As I say, I'm not sure that's quite as true any more, as the success for instance of Roberto Bolaño indicates, but it was the case for a long time.

  2. Hey,
    Thanks for your comment!
    I also find it really odd that there really isn't a single female author in the book. Yes they make a point of mentioning it in the intro. Yes they say it's a bad thing. But then... do something about it. I highly doubt there is not one "alternative" young female writer they could have found.
    I kind of get reminded of Emilia Pardo Bazan who in the late 1800s early 1900s kept getting rejected from real academia española while continuously writing and publishing and working with all the top (male) figures of literature in her time.

  3. I have to agree that it's a shame no female writers contributed to McOndo in any significant way. As Jon said, gender stereotypes are indeed far more entrenched in Latin American culture. In my travels to Central America it was clear that the whole idea of machismo was still alive and well in Latin America. It's a shame that McOndo did kick it 'real on that aspect of Latin American culture.