SINCE the publication of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "One Hundred
Years of Solitude" in 1970, Latin-American literature, particularly
prose fiction, has enjoyed a high degree of visibility and success,
not only in the Spanish-speaking world, but also abroad.
Latin-American authors have also influenced the works of North
American writers with a poetical style that mixes reality and
fiction. Toni Morrison's "Song of Solomon," for example, and John
Nichols's "The Milagro Beanfield War" both reflect this rich
A Hammock Beneath the Mangos: Stories from Latin America
(Dutton, 430 pp., $22.95), edited by Thomas Colchie, a
distinguished translator of Latin-American fiction, depicts the
vast landscape of Latin-American letters.
Colchie organizes this anthology from a geographical viewpoint:
The reader is immersed in a literary journey that begins with the
River Plate region of Argentina and Uruguay; Chile is presented in
a separate section, followed by Brazil. The last section deals with
Mexico and the Caribbean.
Colchie's organization is interesting and well thought out. It
enables the reader to understand the intricate complexities and
vast range of Latin-American literature, while it addresses the
difficulty of finding a common theme that unites the writers.
Most of the authors - such as Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortazar,
and Horacio Quiroga - are well-known in the English-speaking world.
But Colchie also includes less-known figures - Armonia Sommers and
Paulo Emilio Salles Gomes, for example.
Brazilian writers are seldom included in Latin-American
anthologies. Their work is superb, and the selections here include
such grand masters of Brazilian letters as Jorge Amado, Joaquim
Maria Machado de Assis, and Clarice Lispector.
"A Hammock Beneath the Mangos" is an important contribution to
the already existing Latin-American anthologies of short stories -
one that will give readers access to classic writers' best-known
stories compiled in a single collection.
The works of Argentine Luisa Valenzuela and Chilean Isabel
Allende are probably the most translated writings by Latin-American
women. Valenzuela's work focuses on the political history of her
native country, the use of experimental language, and women. She is
perhaps best known for "Other Weapons," first published in the
United States in 1983, a collection of allegorical tales depicting
Latin-American political terror and oppression. …