The period in which Latin-American writers became internationally celebrated is known as the ‘boom’. Writers like Neruda, Marquez, Paz and Vargas Llosa reached their commercial and international peak. After the Cuban Revolution, Latin-America’s writers and intellectuals had a new-found optimism for their region. This led to great experimentation in their literary work. In the subsequent years, the realization that Cuba was not to become a beacon of freedom but rather a bastion of political and creative repression led writers to create in a way that was not at all pessimistic; the surreal, fantastic and existential (the ability to carve out one’s own way from life’s circumstances) became the essential elements to one of the most celebrated literary movements of the past century.
Often overshadowed by the boom are the Latin-American writers who preceded them. This was partly by design: the writers of the boom considered themselves to be an ‘orphan’ movement. In reality, they owed some reference to the Nicaraguan / Central American ‘Vanguardia’ movement which itself was a reflection of surrealism. There is a great variety in Latin-American literature. In a sense, we are consistently rediscovering our Hispanic literary heritage.
In total, the Nobel Prize for Literature has been awarded to six writers. Get to know all six of the Latin American Writers who have won the prestigious literary prize this week. Our first profile is on Gabriela Mistral: