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From Revolution to Migration

A Study of Contemporary Cuban and Cuban American Crime Fiction


Helen Oakley

This book focuses on Cuban and Cuban-American crime fiction of the 1990s and early twenty-first century. Contemporary authors, writing in both English and Spanish, have created new hybrid forms of the crime fiction genre that explore the problematic cultural interaction between Cuba and the United States. Through an analysis of the work of writers such as Leonardo Padura Fuentes, José Latour and Carolina Garcia-Aguilera, the author investigates issues which include the oppression of the individual by the state within Cuba, constructions of masculinity and femininity, and the problems facing Cuban immigrants entering the United States.
The author demonstrates how contemporary writers have been influenced both by the American hard-boiled crime fiction genre and by the legacy of the socialist detective fiction that was promoted in Cuba by the Castro regime in the 1970s. By focusing on works produced both within and outside of Cuba, the book taps into wider debates concerning the concept of post-nationality. The cultural fluidity that characterizes these new variants of crime fiction calls into question traditional boundaries between national literatures and cultures.


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Chapter 1The Origins and Development of Cuban andCuban-American Crime Fiction 1


Chapter 1 The Origins and Development of Cuban and Cuban-American Crime Fiction This chapter forms a contextual introduction to the development of the genre of crime fiction in Latin America as a whole, and the ways in which it has emerged specifically in the contexts of Cuba and in the form of Cuban-American writing in the United States. It is important to note that the crime fiction genre developed in Latin America partly as a result of the importation of various European and US writers, such as Edgar Allan Poe, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Agatha Christie. The development of the genre within Latin America itself cannot, therefore, readily be understood without considering the relationship between Latin America and both European and US literary, cultural traditions. Two main branches have been particularly inf luential upon the con- temporary crime fiction produced within Latin America and the US. The first of these is the classic British tradition which was popularized by the stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the nineteenth century and by the works of such authors as Agatha Christie in the twentieth century. Amelia S. Simpson notes that in Spanish this is referred to as the “novela de enigma or relato problema” (10). Typical characteristics of this genre include the presence of a detective who applies logical reasoning in order to solve a particular case which is often presented to him/her by a client who needs help. There is often a closed circle of suspects, one of whom...

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