Searching for Recognition: The Promotion of Latin American Literature in the United States

Searching for Recognition: The Promotion of Latin American Literature in the United States

Searching for Recognition: The Promotion of Latin American Literature in the United States

Searching for Recognition: The Promotion of Latin American Literature in the United States

Synopsis

In the last 50 years, Latin American literature has become one of the primary focuses of U.S. intellectual attention. This behind-the-scenes account focuses on the efforts of those Americans--publishers, critics, editors, and writers--who brought recognition to Latin American writing. Rostagno explores how the promotion and reception of Latin American literature in this country involve such issues as North American literary tastes and publishing strategies and are part of a larger and more complex picture of inter-American cultural and commercial relations. This fascinating story of the creation of an international audience for a literature explores the roles of critic Waldo Frank, publishers Blanche and Alfred Knopf, editors Margaret Randall and Sergio Mondragon, and the Center for Inter-American Relations.

Excerpt

It was not until the late sixties that Latin American literature began to make a significant mark on the U.S. cultural scene. Given the aggressive support of Latin American authors by Casa de las Américas and the rising popularity of modern Latin American fiction in Europe at the time, champions of Hispanic and Brazilian culture, grouped around the Center for Inter-American Relations in New York, decided it was time for this country to catch up.

The center was established in 1967 by David Rockefeller, then president of the Chase Manhattan Bank. Aware that earlier attempts to introduce Latin American letters had had only a limited impact, he wanted the organization to be a vehicle for a closer and continuing rapport with the United States' southern neighbors. To this end the center's literature program strove to gain a reputation among mainstream critics and publishers for Latin American writers. Over a period of fifteen years the center worked as a clearinghouse for Latin writing. It subsidized translations, stirred up enthusiasm for novelists and poets among publishers and reviewers from prominent New York publications and provided an outlet where Latin American culture could be discussed.

Unlike poets, who incorporated into their work European avant-garde ideas during the twenties and thirties, Latin American novelists, with some exceptions, were slower in assimilating modernism. When they finally did, however, they radically changed the course of Ibero-American letters. in the early sixties South America witnessed an outburst of . . .

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