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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 4Migration, Religion, and Cuban-American Identity: Alex Abella 101


Chapter 4 Migration, Religion, and Cuban-American Identity: Alex Abella Alex Abella is a Cuban-American journalist, screen writer and novelist who lives in Los Angeles. He is the author of a crime fiction series starring the Cuban-American investigator Charlie Morell, in addition to several other novels. The focus of this chapter will be upon the crime fiction tril- ogy which includes the following works: The Killing of the Saints (1991), Dead of Night (1998), and Final Acts (2000). I shall explore the connections between Abella’s fiction and that of Latour and Padura Fuentes, in addition to discussing how Abella pushes the boundaries of the crime fiction genre. In his depiction of the alienated detective figure Abella draws on elements which we would associate with the hard-boiled genre. In this sense, com- parisons can be drawn between Abella’s work and that of Padura Fuentes and Latour. The role of the natural landscape is also another factor which connects Abella’s fiction to that of Padura Fuentes in particular. However, unlike Padura Fuentes’ or Latour’s focus on recently arrived Cuban exiles in Miami, Abella concentrates on Cuban-American identity in Los Angeles. Also, in contrast to the work of Latour and Padura Fuentes, Abella’s fiction does not seem to be related explicitly to the Cuban revolutionary genre. The connections with Cuba lie rather in the depiction of the central pro- tagonist and his relationship with his family, in addition to the portrayals of the criminals, Afro-Cuban culture, and the role of religion within that culture....

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