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To modernize an entire continent

Rune V. Harritshøj
Rune V. Harritshøj
Writer living in Buenos Aires.
PROFESSIONAL LITERATURE / The tendency of Latin American writers to focus on a better future is part of the region's renewed self-awareness – and modernization with free abortion and new constitutions.


In fact, it is a reaction to the new phase of Latin America's ongoing post-colonial showdown. The tendency among the region's non-fiction writers to look ahead and not – like the great writers' years that experienced Che Guevara and the Cuban revolution in the post-war period – to look back.

This important shift in focus gives the literature a function where it fills a void. Several publications are looking ahead and drawing a brighter future that makes non-fiction – but also prose literature – a powerful aesthetic and philosophical generator. The trend is part of the reality of Latin America, which is in upheaval against the Catholic and male-dominated, strongly patriarchal societies and values ​​of the past.

Fortunato Mallimaci writes in the book Supervision of the pandemic in Latin America (Overcoming the pandemic in Latin America): “The pandemic has shown us the flaws of the international system at a time when the world and Latin America needed multilateralism more than ever, this was not present. Latin America has suffered from this neoliberal domination and must look ahead and begin to rely more on its own resources. "

In all countries, the women's movement is the prime mover for modernization to the benefit of all citizens, regardless of gender, age, race and ethnicity. But climate change, as highlighted by several Latin American publications, is also helping to change the otherwise traditionally heavy Catholic-influenced political and social agenda. The literary messages about hope and light at the end of the tunnel for Latin America is borne by the massive social mobilizations of the last couple of years, from north to south, in favor of the decriminalization of abortion or homosexual marriage and right up until last year's new constitution in Chile.

Nonfiction writers

A writer like Jorge Carrión, who is a Spaniard with several publications and works as head of the literary master's program at the Universidad Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, ​​calls the tendency in Latin America "avant-garde and a laboratory for this forward-looking nonfiction":

"In Latin America, even the new generation of political leaders has proven incompetent and unable to create sustainable futures. In many countries, governments change quickly, while other countries see politicians who have perpetuated themselves in power, as in Nicaragua and Venezuela, and have thus destroyed the collective future. In this reality, speculative literature comes to the fore with an alternative, from the imagination and from dystopiaone. And thus Latin American literature experiences this tension between dystopia and utopia," says Jorge Carrion to MODERN TIMES.


Non-fiction in Latin America has for decades, like the rest of society, been politically influenced and polarized – with various non-fiction authors and their research institutions divided according to political conviction. And the new authors spend a lot of time showing where the existing ones are dystopiane societies in the region are constantly renewing their shortcomings and mistakes. New thinking is needed in all walks of life is the message across a broad front from the young Latin American non-fiction writers.

The new tendency to look towards the future is, as with Latin American fiction, a rejection of many decades of dwelling on the past. Nonfiction writers like Marcela tie and Hernán Borisonic everyone works for a Latin America that is independent and manages to raise the standard of living for its millions of impoverished populations. New figures from the UN show that the covid-19 pandemic has increased poverty, especially for citizens under the age of 18 – children. That reflects the Latin American literature as well, because this generation gap is a scandalous legacy and a ticking bomb under the entire region.

A necessary renewal

From Mexico in the north to Argentina in the south, the new non-fiction authors – and researchers – are trying to free themselves from the region's tradition of politicizing specialist knowledge and non-fiction, and the way they do this, among other things, is to look ahead to the future. In order to (try to) free their research from political, social and religious dogmas, all of which in their own way are keeping Latin America from a necessary renewal. And means that for decades the region has always been perceived as a potentially rich region but with great untapped potential both within natural resources but equally within human resources: Talent pool.

Hope has never had good conditions in Latin American literature.

The new non-fiction publications thus reflect the social political tendencies in the region, where the last ten years have seen a massive confrontation with the macho culture and with major changes within family law and with the women's movements as the biggest promoters of this tendency and development.

The new Latin American non-fiction writers understand that their research is part of this necessary process and reckoning with the past – and the present – in order to modernize an entire continent. Thus, the new publications are in themselves revolutionary, but not in the same party-politically dogmatic way as decades of Latin American non-fiction.

Less corruption and crime

CLASCO, the Commission for Social Studies in Latin America, is a UN agency with headquarters in Buenos Aires and publishes many non-fiction books from the entire region. The compilation Pensar laughed socially (To think the social) are young researchers from the region, who give their take on the role of research and non-fiction in the coming Latin America:

"Our researchers share our responsibility in getting the region away from this vicious circle, where the distance to the rest of the world's progress is getting bigger and bigger. We are part of the necessary political and social paradigm shift, but we also have a responsibility not to follow the very repressed and depressing literature of earlier times, which precisely helped to repeat the region's shortcomings and mistakes", writes Hernán Borisonik.

The problem with this is that for decades Latin America has had the feeling of treading water, because improvements in the standard of living or less corruption or less crime have always been very sporadic and with major setbacks. Hope has therefore never had good conditions in Latin American literature. But the young writers are trying to show the way forward for a new Latin America. Whether it is naivety or expertise built on reality, the future must show:

As Marcela Cravetto writes in Pensar laughed socially: "Non-fiction should transform Latin America's dream and ambitions, which for many decades has been relegated to fiction and the fictional universe. This magical realism must be transformed into reality – realism.”

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