Beings: Contemporary Peruvian Short Stories

By Ferreira, César | World Literature Today, January/February 2015 | Go to article overview

Beings: Contemporary Peruvian Short Stories


Ferreira, César, World Literature Today


Beings: Contemporary Peruvian Short Stories. Anna Heath, tr. London. Berforts Information Press. 2014. isbn 9781908616739

This anthology of contemporary Peruvian short fiction, beginning in the 1950s, is comprised of eight short stories by wellknown authors and includes several present-day writers. During the middle of the twentieth century, a new generation of writers emerged in Peru. While still committed to depicting social reality, they were also concerned with the modernization and renovation of literary expression by moving away from traditionally realist fiction. The result of that new writing was neorealism, which favored urban settings linked to the incorporation of technical developments of mainstream European and American fiction.

Julio Ramón Ribeyro is Peru's most notable exponent of short fiction in the twentieth century. His story, "Alienation," depicts Peru's deep-rooted social and racial tensions, as seen in the tragically comic life of a youngster in Lima who struggles to deny his Afro-Peruvian identity in order to become an American. In New York, his encounter with the American dream tragically falls apart and eventually leads him to his grave on a Korean battlefield. Along with this masterpiece, it is worth noting Luis Loayza's "Cold Afternoons," a story about a love affair between a university professor and a member of the upper class. Vaguely set in the late 1960s, Loayza's tale is as much a chronicle of false social appearances as it is of Lima's slow transformation into a modern city. While seemingly cheerful and romantic during the summer, Peru's capital ultimately proves to be a melancholic and somber place for the characters in the story.

Youth and sexual initiation are at the center of Temando Ampuero's "Bad Manners." Set in Lima in the 1960s, the firstperson narrator recounts the lives of a group of friends at a summer resort and their coming of age, centering on a beautiful yet distant young girl who is the source of great mystery and nostalgia. …

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