Latin America through the Literary Looking-Glass, And What Bolaño Found There

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This article provides a broad overview of social, economic, and cultural politics in Latin America, especially concentrating on what became known as the Latin American literary “boom” in the 1960s and 1970s, and the region’s political context - colonial past, neocolonial/neoliberal present, the role of intellectuals within the state and cultural affairs. The second part focuses on Roberto Bolaño - the writer who put Latin American literature on the world map which has not been seen since the boom years - and his novel The Savage Detectives. The aim of this article is to demonstrate that literature not only shares common elements and possible intentions with social and political critique, but that it can also be an effective form of social and political criticism. In such a case, Bolaño’s work may be read not as inferior fictional account but as a complex, intersectional investigation of socioeconomic as well as ontological condition in Latin America that other modes of inquiry may overlook.

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