Hispanic Crime Fiction
In this course we will examine how detective fiction in the Hispanic world evolved from the classic British mystery or “enigma” and the North American hard-boiled genre toward the crime novel or novela negra. In Latin America, the novela negra has become a favored genre to address political reality, particularly in situations where the state is involved in criminality and wrongdoers escape with impunity. It has the capacity to describe the world of political and economic power and, when it incorporates the psychological thriller, to explore the inner recesses of the human psyche. The addition of intrigue and suspense to this already compelling mix explains the popularity of this genre.
We will study the traditional “grammar” of the genre—for instance the character trio of criminal-victim-detective and the plot which develops to resolve an enigma—and how these elements are employed or altered to paint a gripping portrait of contemporary society. Course readings will consist of a selection of critical essays, short stories, and the following novels: ¿Quién mató a Palomino Molero? by Mario Vargas Llosa and Tuya and Betibú by Claudia Piñeiro.