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Detective Fiction in Cuban Society and Culture

Stephen Wilkinson

This book examines Cuban society through a study of its detective fiction and more particularly contemporary Cuban society through the novels of the author and critic, Leonardo Padura Fuentes.
The author traces the development of Cuban detective writing in the light of the work of twentieth century Western European literary critics and philosophers including Raymond Williams, Antonio Gramsci, Terry Eagleton, Roland Barthes, Jean Paul Sartre, Michel Foucault, Jean François Lyotard and Jean Baudrillard in order to gain a better understanding of the social and historical context in which this genre emerged.
The analysis includes discussion of the broader philosophical, political and historical issues raised by the Cuban revolution. The book concludes that the study of this popular genre in Cuba is of crucial importance to the scholar who wishes to reach as full an understanding of the social dynamics within that society as possible.

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6. Socialist heroes and capitalist villains: the Cuban revolutionary crime genre 1971–1991 123

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Chapter 6: Socialist heroes and capitalist villains: the Cuban revolutionary crime genre 1971–1991 The Cuban critic José M. Fernández Pequeño (1994) agrees that the revolutionary Cuban detective genre intended from the outset to create a distinct literature which would be relevant to the new society that the revolution was building: ‘capaz de arrojar el lastre burgués y ponerse al servicio del proceso revolucionario’ (1994: 13). However, this effort, he concludes, was largely frustrated by what he regards as a lack of verisimilitude, ‘una pobre elaboración del material de la vida que se pretendía recrear literariamente’ (1994: 14). This chapter discusses the attempts of a number of the post-revolutionary detective novelists to serve the revolution and at the same time assesses how well they succeeded in producing convincing portrayals of revolutionary life. Among the novelists to be considered is Armando Cristóbal Pérez (b. 1938) who is regarded as the first exponent of the post- revolutionary detective novel (Nogueras 1982: 28). In his novels, Cristóbal Pérez applies the formula he expounded in his essay, ‘El género policial y la lucha de clases’ (1973), on which he elaborated further in an interview in August 1992 (See Chapter 5). In general, this formula can be summarized as follows: 1. The crime and its investigation should not merely build up an ingenious and entertaining plot but should also present explicit comments on the real life-or-death struggle between revolutionary Cuba and its enemies. 2. The...

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