"Desde Australia Para Todo El Mundo Hispano": Australia's Spanish-Language Magazines and Latin American/Australian Writing

By Jacklin, Michael | Antipodes, December 2010 | Go to article overview

"Desde Australia Para Todo El Mundo Hispano": Australia's Spanish-Language Magazines and Latin American/Australian Writing


Jacklin, Michael, Antipodes


MIGRANTS FROM LATIN AMERICA HAVE HAD A LITERARY presence in Australia since the 1970s and their work forms an important part of Australia's multhingual literature. From their participation in literary competitions organized through cultural groups such as the Spanish Club in Sydney or the Uruguayan Club in Melbourne, to anthologies of community writing produced through the 1980s and '90s, to the publication of numerous volumes of poetry and short stories, to their novels, plays, biographies and autobiographies, Latin American writers in Australia have developed and sustained a significant body of literature over more than three decades. The majority of this literature has been written and published in Spanish, and this has meant that its circulation, for the most part, has been limited to Spanish-speaking communities and readerships. Moreover, unlike the literary production of other linguistic and cultural groups within Australia - for example, Greek or Italian - Latin American literary production has received scant critical attention from Australian literary scholars.1 The 1992 publication A Bibliography of Australian Multicultural Writers included only seventeen authors writing in Spanish, thirteen of whom were from Latin America. Although Ignacio García 's Spanish Fiction Writing in Australia (1997) improved this, expanding the number to over one hundred and thirty writers, Garcia's work was itself extremely limited in circulation, with only three copies available throughout all Australian libraries. To date, critical response to works by Australian writers of Latin American heritage remains almost non-existent in English. This essay will address this gap through an examination of the Spanish-language magazines publishing in Sydney from the 1980s to the present and a discussion of the contributions of Latin American writers to these periodicals. Beginning with magazines such as Vistazo and Versión, and continuing with Hontanar (originally a print publication and now online), Latin American writers have contributed fiction, poetry and essays as well as reviews of others' work. These sites of literary production deserve documentation and analysis, both as expressions of how literary communities in languages other than English survive, and in some cases thrive, within an Anglocentric nation and, increasingly, as manifestations of a transnational literature that circulates amongst globally dispersed reading communities.

The lack of critical attention to literary work in Spanish is indicative of a lag in Australian literary studies with regard to the acknowledgement of both the role and the scope of multilingual literary production. More than a decade ago, American literary studies began a broadening of its critical perspectives with the publication of a number of major anthologies devoted to the recognition and analysis of the linguistic complexity of American writing. Werner Sollors's Multhingual America: Transnationalism, Ethnicity, and the Languages of American Literature (1998) and Marc Shell's American Babel: Literatures o/ the United States from Abnaki to Zuni (2002) include critical essays on literature written in the United States in languages including Spanish, German, Yiddish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Arabic, among many others. Extending this approach from American to world literatures, the essays in Doris Sommer's edited anthology Bilingual Games: Some Literary Investigations (2003) range internationally across literary texts, with an emphasis in a number of its contributions on diasporic writing and literatures of migration. Works such as these may not be evidence of mainstream enthusiasm or embrace of multhingual writing in America; nevertheless, they demonstrate a critical engagement with literary works in a diversity of languages far beyond that undertaken in Australian literary studies.

While Australian literary scholars - beginning with the work of LoIo Houbein in the 1970s, Alexandra KarakostasSeda in the 1980s, and culminating in A Bibliography of Australian Multicultural Writers - drew attention to multicultural literature, including writing in languages other than English, this attention has for the most part remained bibliographic in focus. …

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