Review Of "Cuban Writers On And Off The Island: Contemporary Narrative Fiction" By P. M. Smorkaloff

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At the heart of this concise and superbly written study is the author's rejection of the tendency to view Cuba's literary production and that of its diaspora as parallel but separate entities. Convinced that the contemporary world is one of ever-shifting physical and mental borders, Smorkaloff (Montclair State Univ.) examines the entirety of the 20th-century Cuban literary canon, attempting to show where the cultural and intellectual spaces of this production intersect and overlap. She concentrates on a group of writers of narrative fiction whose works reflect what she terms a conscious engagement with Cuba's history as a continuum. She establishes Alejo Carpentier and the off-island newcomer Achy Obejas as the literary poles of this continuum, with Reinaldo Arenas serving as a kind of bridge to the contemporary diaspora and to contemporary Cuban American writers such as Oscar Hijuelos and Cristina García, whose careers have developed principally in the US. Smorkaloff argues that all of this narrative has in common its exploration of the role of false memory, both on and off the island, in the construction of a national, cultural identity. Recommended for all collections.


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