A User's Guide to Postcolonial and Latino Borderland Fiction

A User's Guide to Postcolonial and Latino Borderland Fiction

A User's Guide to Postcolonial and Latino Borderland Fiction

A User's Guide to Postcolonial and Latino Borderland Fiction


Why are so many people attracted to narrative fiction? How do authors in this genre reframe experiences, people, and environments anchored to the real world without duplicating "real life"? In which ways does fiction differ from reality? What might fictional narrative and reality have in common--if anything? By analyzing novels such as Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things, Amitav Ghosh's The Glass Palace, Zadie Smith's White Teeth, and Hari Kunzru's The Impressionist, along with selected Latino comic books and short fiction, this book explores the peculiarities of the production and reception of postcolonial and Latino borderland fiction. Frederick Luis Aldama uses tools from disciplines such as film studies and cognitive science that allow the reader to establish how a fictional narrative is built, how it functions, and how it defines the boundaries of concepts that appear susceptible to limitless interpretations. Aldama emphasizes how postcolonial and Latino borderland narrative fiction authors and artists use narrative devices to create their aesthetic blueprints in ways that loosely guide their readers' imagination and emotion. In A User's Guide to Postcolonial and Latino Borderland Fiction, he argues that the study of ethnic-identified narrative fiction must acknowledge its active engagement with world narrative fictional genres, storytelling modes, and techniques, as well as the way such fictions work to move their audiences.


As a Chicano teen far from homelands (Mexico and California) growing up in a 1980s London stretched large with all walks of life I found myself irresistibly drawn to literature. With the guidance of a gracious librarian and an Afro-Caribbean British-identifying English teacher, I indulged in the inexhaustible splendors, merriment, and knowledge served up by the likes of Gabriel García Márquez, Jorge Luis Borges, Max Frisch, Hanif Kureishi, Elena Garro, Juan Goytisolo, and Salman Rushdie, among many others. I was living and going to school in a part of London filling to the brim with peoples from the Caribbean, Pakistan, India, and Africa. I was living in a time when many “postcolonial” authors were fast becoming visible in their creative reimagining of such a metropolitan space.

This was my introduction to the world of literature—and to “world literature.” At this stage, such readings were absolutely self-interested and self-absorbed, drawn to the narratives because of a strong identification with the characters and their settings. I was filled with questions about my various experiences of dislocation (Mexico City to Sacramento to London), and many of these authors seemed to imagine characters and worlds that did not so much provide answers as provide some kind of tellurian foothold.

At this point, too, after returning again and again to certain authors I began to wonder what it was about them—and not others—that had me going back for more. It surely was not that their novels and short stories captivated me because they mirrored my personal experience and that of my classmates and friends while schooling ourselves in the racially mixed inner-city London. After all, how much more different could García Márquez’s Macondo be from Frisch’s Zurich or Kureishi’s South London? And yet I loved them all.

It was only once I set foot on the University of California Berkeley . . .

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