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From Revolution to Migration

A Study of Contemporary Cuban and Cuban American Crime Fiction

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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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Conclusion The analysis of Padura Fuentes, Abella, Latour, and Garcia-Aguilera reveals intriguing points of intersection on both generic and political levels. The legacy of the revolutionary crime genre can be discerned in the work of Padura Fuentes and Latour, yet to a large extent both writers break away from its more constricting aspects. Certainly, the emergence of the indi- vidualist detective hero in the form of Mario Conde reveals how Padura Fuentes is challenging the socialist beliefs which underpin the revolu- tion, yet his work does not reject its ideals completely. While Latour’s open condemnation of the Fidel Castro regime is more overt than that of Padura Fuentes, both writers share an interest in investigating the issues of political corruption, urban decay, and social deprivation within the Havana of the 1990s. The blurring of generic and cultural boundaries which occurs in the fiction of all these writers might lead to the conclusion that the term “post- national” is suitable to describe them. However, a sharp focus on spe- cific locations is retained, thus challenging the applicability of such an all-embracing label. Even more culturally specific terms such as “Latino/a” and “Cuban American” have been contested by writers and critics, thus illustrating the inherent problems in designating cultural groups. While I would not want to abandon the preceding terms completely, it is important to bear in mind that they are broad categories which encompass a diverse range of people, not all of whom would welcome the imposition of these labels upon...

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