Sandro R. Barros. Competing Truths in Contemporary Latin American Literature: Narrating Otherness, Marginality, and the Politics of Representation. ISBN 978-1-888205-32-9. $26.95.
The overwhelming success of the filmic adaptations of Before Night Falls by Cuban exile Reinaldo Arenas, The Virgin of the Assassins by Colombian writer Fernando Vallejo, and City of God by Brazilian author Paulo Lins attracted audiences worldwide to rediscover and rethink the content of these works as enigmatic messages of disillusionment and abjection regarding the Latin American realities they promote. The original texts' representation of sicarios, favelados, and homosexual dissidents undermines the conceptualization of the Latin American continental identity as "Other" in relation to dominant Eurocentric and North American perspectives. Competing Truths delves into the question of to what extent the fictional and autobiographical truths purported by the aforementioned bestsellers engage in the process of fixating conventional paradigms of "Third World" identity, such as poverty, violence and exclusion, as images of consumption for world audiences.
Furthermore, Competing Truths examines what constitutes truth and reality from a perspective that assesses Latin American history and culture in a contest for the very meaning of the postmodern truth. Competing Truths presents a critical reflection of three of the most compelling and successful novels emerging from the Latin American literary scene at the end of the 20th century, questioning the politics behind their historical, racial, and gendered representations. Competing Truths explores the Latin American identity within a literary fictional framework and realistic social paradigms, a dichotomy that challenges the reality of identity of the social types. Lector, The Hispanic Book Review Journal.
In Competing Truths Sandro Barros presents a highly provocative, sharp and critical dialogue with the main theoretical proposals that deal with cultural identities. It is not fortuitous that the three contemporary Latin American works Barros analyzes present a first person narrator, since it is through the (de)construction of subjectivities that the authors approach social and political issues. For Barros, subjectivity establishes the base to address agency and victimization, the private and the public, the margin and the center, memory and History, and finally the national and the foreign. When referring to "postmodern truth", Barros is not only questioning, but also confronting modern western episteme. A welcome addition to the field of Latin American literary criticism and Cultural studies. AileenEl-Kadi Assistant Professor and Organizer of Brazilian Studies at the University of Texas at El Paso.
Sandro R. Barros is Assistant Professor of Modern Languages at DePauw University. He has taught at the University of Michigan, Western Illinois University, and West Texas A & M University. He earned his B.A. in Music and Spanish and holds a Ph.D. degree in Romance Languages and Literatures from the University of Cincinnati with a dissertation on current representations of Latin American marginality in foreign literary markets. Dr. Barros has published articles on Reinaldo Arenas, Cervantes, Paulo Lins, and Fernando Vallejo. His current interests include critical/resistance pedagogies and the political implications of Latino literature in the U.S. curriculum.