content by

Michael Zapata

Unstable Reality: Latin America’s Genre-Bending Traditions

In 2009, while reading Roberto Bolaño’s apocalyptic, meteoric masterpiece 2666, I was overwhelmed with the sensation that genre was being reinvented to fit an increasingly uncanny 21st century. Three romantically entangled professors set out to find an elusive, genre-bending post-war German novelist in Santa Teresa, a fictionalized version of the Mexican city of Ciudad Juárez. Instead of the writer they find an impressionistic global future: a desert city with a horizon of maquiladores, soccer matches “between a team of the terminally ill and a team of the starving to death,” “flocks of black vultures,” and a “sky, at sunset…like a carnivorous flower.”

A rich generation of young Latin American writers have been remarkably effective in revealing our era of unstable reality, and wonderfully unattached to genre when doing so.

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