La novela policial alternativa en hispanoamérica : detectives perdidos, asesinos ausentes y enigmas sin respuesta

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2008-05

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Abstract

Despite the great popularity and increased prestige of classic detective fiction, as well as the American hard-boiled novel, since their introduction in the nineteenth century many readers and authors have perceived them as genres incompatible with Latin American realities. The inherent conventions of the whodunit, the presence of a detective whose legitimacy is never in doubt, and its conservative ideology, which presupposed the punishment of criminality and the reestablishment of the status quo, were incongruous in societies in which people had no faith in justice. The genre, then, was regarded as unrealistic for third world countries. In this way, in order to be plausible, the detective novel in Latin America needed a different approach. In broad terms, these pages propose the emergence of a new genre that can be observed in the works of contemporary authors such as Vicente Leñero's Los albañiles (1963), Ricardo Piglia's Nombre falso (1975), Jorge Ibargüengoitia's Las muertas (1977) and, most notably, in Roberto Bolaño's Los detectives salvajes (1998), which I consider the most prominent and complex example of this type. The present study examines how this innovative Spanish American detective fiction incorporates and restates some of the structures and conventions of the hard-boiled novel and shares some features of contemporary Spanish American fiction, while developing its own characteristics in contrast with both detective fiction schools. Due to the necessity of the native writers to adopt, formally and thematically, alternative approaches when creating credible detective stories, I have named this emergent genre: Spanish American alternative detective fiction.

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