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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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Conclusion 283

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Conclusion In his interview with Verity Smith (2001), Leonardo Padura Fuentes says that he began to write police novels after realising that the genre in Cuba had entered into a period of ‘crisis irreversible’: Con esa perspectiva es que, a partir de los años 86–88, empiezo a tener contactos con la literatura policíaca que se escribía en esos momentos en el mundo y de la cual no teníamos información en Cuba. Eso cambió mi perspectiva sobre la literatura policíaca actual y decidí escribir una novela de este género. Lo que quería hacer era escribir una novela policíaca sin los defectos que tenía este tipo de novela en su versión cubana. (Smith 2001: 69) Thus Padura Fuentes confirms a central proposal of this book that he has personally succeeded in carrying out a genre shift in the Cuban detective novel. In doing so he has also confirmed a second proposal in this book, that detective fiction is useful as an indicator of social change. In the passage above he mentions that it was only in the late 1980s that he became aware of the deficiencies of the Cuban genre, when he came into contact with the kind of fiction being produced in the rest of the world. It was this influence that inspired his decision to write. Crucially, before this period, Cuban culture was isolated from the rest of the world, partly as a result of external pressures as...

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