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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 2Challenging the Cuban Revolutionary Crime Novel:Leonardo Padura Fuentes 31


Chapter 2 Challenging the Cuban Revolutionary Crime Novel: Leonardo Padura Fuentes Leonardo Padura Fuentes is Cuba’s most celebrated contemporary crime writer. He is the author of Las quatro estaciones (The Four Seasons) tetral- ogy and Adiós Hemingway (Goodbye Hemingway) in addition to other works of fiction and critical essays. In my analysis I shall be focusing on the above mentioned novels because they provide the most penetrating insights into how Padura Fuentes subverts the tradition of revolutionary Cuban crime fiction both by employing elements derived from the US hard-boiled tradition and also by questioning the ideals of the revolution. In contrast to the other writers covered in this book, Padura Fuentes has lived all his life in Havana, although he has travelled widely and he has been inf luenced by US, European, and Latin American fiction and culture. Padura Fuentes’ residence within Cuba therefore impacts on his fiction which is mainly set in Havana. In this way, his fiction can be compared to that of Latour, Abella, and Garcia-Aguilera who all set some sections of their work in Havana. Another point of comparison is the treatment of the relationship between Cuba and the United States. Although Padura Fuentes’ novels focus more deeply on the Cuban context and less on the US environment than the works of the other writers discussed in this book, his fiction is still relevant to a consideration of the relationship between US and Cuban culture. This is shown particularly in Vientos de Cuaresma (published in...

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