The following is an interview with Adrian Taylor Kane, author of Central American Avant-Garde Narrative: Literary Innovation and Cultural Change (1926–1936):
Question: Why did you decide to write Central American Avant-Garde Narrative?
Adrian Taylor Kane: I perceived a gap in knowledge about fiction from this region and era. Until now, scholarship on Latin American avant-garde narrative has largely marginalized works from Central America, despite the presence of several important texts by Central American authors. Similarly, within the field of Central American literary criticism, fiction from the 1920s and 1930s had not yet received the attention that I believe it merits. As I argue in the book, Luis Cardoza y Aragón’s Maelstrom: Films Telescopiados, Max Jiménez’s Unos fantoches and El domador de las pulgas, Flavio Herrera’ El tigre, and Rogelio Sinán’s “A la orilla de las estatuas maduras” and “El sueño de Serafín del Carmen” are valuable contributions to a dynamic period of literary experimentation and cultural change. With regard to Miguel Ángel Asturias’s Leyendas de Guatemala and El Señor Presidente, I wanted to call attention to his use of specific surrealist techniques and trace the use of these strategies back to “La barba provisional,” an earlier, lesser-known text written during the years of his initial contact with surrealism in Paris. Given its importance in the history of Spanish American fiction, I also felt it was important to reclaim his masterpiece El Señor Presidente as a product of the Central American avant-garde.
Question: What do you hope your readers take away from your book?
Adrian Taylor Kane: I hope that readers take away from the book a heightened appreciation for Central America’s literary history, a realization of the ways in which Cardoza y Aragón, Jiménez, Herrera, Sinán, and Asturias altered the trajectory of Central American fiction, and a recognition that Latin American authors were writing fascinating and valuable works several decades before the much touted literary Boom of the 1960s. I also hope readers will recognize the value of these Central American works of fiction as important contributions to the mosaic of Latin American vanguardism, one of the great revolutionary movements in Latin American literature and culture. With regard to the book’s broader implications, I hope that readers will appreciate how literature can be a driver of change in artistic, philosophical, political, and social thought. I would also hope that they take away a renewed awareness of how works of literature are cultural artifacts that are capable of contributing to a more profound understanding of history.
Question: What other research do you believe is needed on this topic?
Adrian Taylor Kane: There is still a tremendous amount of ground to be covered in developing a thorough history of Central American literature and I am encouraged to see that there is a slow but steady increase in the number of scholars working in the field of Central American literary criticism. With specific regard to scholarship related to the Central American avant-garde, I think that studies that would analyze the connections between avant-garde fiction and Central American modern and postmodern fiction would further reveal what a pivotal moment the 1920s and 1930s were in the history of Central American narrative with respect to revolutionary aesthetics as well as sociopolitical thought.
Central American Avant-Garde Narrative will be on display at the LASA congress next week.
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