Journal of Arts & Ideas, no. 10-11 (Jan-June 1985) p. 7.


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The New Latin American Literature

Kalpana Sahni

'We were original long before the idea of originality concretised itself as an aim for us/

Alejo Carpentier

'We writers have the right to believe in a Utopia. A new, fascinating Utopia of life, where no one will be able to order the fate of another, where love will be really true and happiness a possiblity and where generations who from birth were condemned to a hundred years of solitude shall, once and for all, find a new fate on earth/

Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Nobel Prize Speech)

THE Indian reader has had to wait a decade to become aware of the upsurge in Latin American literature. Once again it has been achieved due to the European and American publishing houses which have made this powerful literature into a saleable commodity in the English language. Before this happened the new names that filtered down to us though the Western book market were those of Pablo Neruda, Miguel Angel Asturias and Alejo Carpentier. In between one got an idea of the amazing achievements in the post-revolutionary Cuban culture scene—such as films, graphic arts and modern dance. The next big discovery was of an unknown author who had written a novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude. In the initial stages people were even ignorant of his nationality. Gabriel Garcia Marquez's second novel. The Autumn of the Patriarch, finally established his credentials as one of the most exciting new discoveries in literature. With his arrival not only did we catch up on our geographical ignorance about the South American continent, but were also made aware of a whole range of equally important South American writers like Julio Cortazar (Argentina), Jorge Amado (Brazil), Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru), Augusto Roa Bastos (Paraguay), Carlos Fuentes (Mexico), to rame but a few.

Everyone is talking and writing about this so called 'boom' in Latin American literature and culture. But is it really a 'boom' as is being claimed in Europe and the USA ? Does the sudden cultural flowering of the continent owe its emergence to mysterious phenomena ? A look at the past reveals that this

Journal of Arts and Ideas 7


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