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Crime Scenes

Latin American Crime Fiction from the 1960s to the 2010s

Edited By Charlotte Lange and Ailsa Peate

Crime fiction has become a key element in Latin American literature. The rise in production of the genre can be explained by an urgency to explore issues of morality in societies which incorporate varying levels of censorship and corruption. Through a focus on the concept of the crime scene itself, this book identifies and interrogates some of the principal developments in contemporary Latin American crime fiction. In ten chapters which cover Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico and Venezuela, and generic diversity which spans police procedurals, narcoliteratura, postmodern detection, and historical portrayals of crimes, the authors investigate how the crime scene – which has always been central to the genre and its subgenres – critiques local and global issues, including social injustice, discrimination, neoliberalism, violence, identity, corruption, and memory.

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2 What Happens in Clipperton …: Criminality and Trauma in Isla de pasión (1989) by Laura Restrepo and Isla de bobos (2007) by Ana García Bergua (Niamh Thornton)


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2 What Happens in Clipperton …: Criminality and Trauma in Isla de pasión (1989) by Laura Restrepo and Isla de bobos (2007) by Ana García Bergua


The 100 Mexicans who occupied Clipperton Island in 1914 dwindled to twelve by 1916. All but forgotten by a country at war the inhabitants died from illness, starvation, and drowning. In 1916, during the Mexican Revolution four women and seven children were rescued by a US Navy ship. No longer willing to tolerate the abuse he meted out, the women colluded in killing the final man, Victoriano Álvarez, shortly before their rescue. There are two novels that explore this incident, Isla de pasión (1989) by the Colombian Laura Restrepo and Isla de bobos (2007) by the Mexican Ana García Bergua. Both novels focus on Clipperton as a locus of national sovereignty, gender politics, and conflict. The authors shift their narratives between Mexico City and the distant atoll. Simultaneously, it is at a considerable remove from the centre of power and illuminates its fault lines. Terrible criminal acts were committed on Clipperton and, on their return, were borne as traumas by the women. This chapter will consider the power that this space possesses as a last bastion of Porfirian rule and site of trauma.

Clipperton is a place shrouded in myth, mystery and competing interests. As an instance of how its history is glossed and because of its...

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