Historically, the love story has been the preserve of women writers. This was especially so in Latin America until well into the last century, a society dominated by religion that imposed moral, stylistic, and thematic constraints – a code of decency – on the fictional treatment of love and passion. The explicitly physical, the erotic, the intimacies of human sexual relationship were forbidden territory for Latin American women writers. Romantic situations delicately and sensitively portrayed represented the furthest limits available to them.
In recent years, however, all that has changed. In this collection, Psiche Hughes has brought together stories by women who are not only vigorously challenging the code of decency but who are in some cases fracturing the whole fictional convention of the love story. An authority on modern Latin American literature, especially novels and short stories, Hughes shows graphically in this collection how Latin American women writers, emerging toward the end of the twentieth century, violently challenge in their short fiction both literary conventions and legal or quasilegal proscription. These are stories in which “violation” – in the realms of both private sexual behavior and of imposed public morality – is a central concept and a central mode of action.
These stories are both shocking and exhilarating, violent and tender, familiar yet groundbreaking. Through them, Hughes demonstrates the revolutionary changes that have overtaken Latin American women’s short fiction in recent years and reveals, by unerring selection, its radical individuality – the lush, “doubly baroque” style, the poetic language, the sometimes shocking juxtapositions and imagery, the obsession with psychoanalysis.
This is a rich Latin American feast of fiction by women writers who are feisty, scornful of convention, and, above all, passionate and proud of it.