Los Americanos Desconocidos (The Unknown Americans): Contemporary Latin American Literature

Fall 1999

Who are the “unknown Americans”? For the past fifty years, a cultural and artistic awakening has been taking place among Latin American writers. The colorful vigor they have brought to their writing has often been described as “magical realism,” a literary style that depicts the fantastic and the bizarre as an integral part of the mundane and the everyday in Latin America. With their special cultural heritage and perspective, they have become major figures in world literature. This “Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma,” reading and discussion series will enable you to explore great Latin American writers who have made a substantial contribution to world literature.

Oklahoma City University invites participants to make these writers “known” in this four-part series. At each session, a Humanities scholar will make a 30-40 minute presentation on the readings. Small group discussion will follow. At the end, everyone comes together for a brief wrap-up. Anyone interested in participating is encouraged to pre-register and borrow the reading selections by calling Harbour Winn at 521-5472 or drop by OCU’s Walker Center 171. A brochure describing the series theme is also available.

The series will be held in Walker Center, Room 201, on the OCU campus from 7:30 to 9:30 PM on Tuesdays, beginning September 21 and continuing on alternate Tuesdays through November 2. The discussion series is part of the statewide “Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma” project of the Oklahoma Library Association. Services, books and other materials are provided by “Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma,” which is funded, in part, by the Oklahoma Humanities Council, Inc., the National Endowment for the Humanities, and a state appropriation administered by the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.

READINGS AND DATES

September 21, 1999 Aunt Julia and the Script Writer by Mario Vargas Llosa

Llosa, the leading novelist of Peru as well as a former candidate for the presidency of Peru, merges reality with fantasy in this hilarious comic novel about the world of radio soap operas. When the love affair of the main character and an older woman begins to resemble the bizarre world of the soaps, the fun and seriousness quadruples!

October 5, 1999 Paradise by Elena Castedo

Nominated for the 1990 National Book Award, Paradise represents the impressive literary debut of a major new Latin American talent. Told from the eyes of a ten-year-old girl whose parents have fled Franco’s Spain, this novel is much more than a coming-of-age story. This invented paradise of bored aristocrats, quirky animals, and servants with personalities becomes a microcosm of the mysteries and absurdities at the heart of upper class society.

October 19, 1999 Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Nobel prize winner García Márques has created one of literature’s most remarkable stories of unrequited love. The vividly absorbing fictional world of this novel renders a story as lush and dazzling as a dream and as real and immediate as our own deepest longings. Filled with the spiritual and the mundane in almost every paragraph, Love in the Time of Cholera becomes one of the greatest love stories of characters who enjoy life in spite of their awareness of the aging of their own bodies.

November 2, 1999 The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

Latin America’s foremost female novelist and the niece of the assassinated president of Chile, Allende creates a novel that has been a best seller and critical success all over the world. This magnificent epic of the Trueba family is that rarest of books in that it simultaneously tells the story of one family and one country and yet the story of all families and all countries. We feel ourselves members of this large and passionate family; we become attached to them as if they were our own.