The Boom is a term used loosely to refer to a group of Latin American authors who, in the late 1950s and 1960s, put fiction from the sub-continent on the international map. The principal writers are Julio Cortazar (Argentina), the Mexican Carlos Fuentes (1928- ), Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Colombia), and Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru). Influenced by European and North American Modernism, even by the Latin American Vanguardia movement, these writers challenged the established conventions of Latin American literature.
The Cuban Revolution of 1959 drew attention to Latin America and fostered a sense of a shared Latin American identity among left-leaning writers, while the promotion of the Boom by publishers, particularly in Spain and by the Paris-based magazine Mundo nuevo, ensured media attention.
An earlier generation of Latin American writers had already drawn inspiration from European and North American modernist authors like William Faulkner, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf, adapting them creatively to their own context, but the Boom authors did so in a way that caught the imagination of a wide readership. Fuentes’s novels include The Death of Artemio Cruz (1962: La muerte de Artemio Cruz), Where the Air Is Clear (1959), Aura (1962), Terra Nostra (1975), and the post-Boom novella The Old Gringo (1985) and Vargas Llosa’s The Time of the HeroLa ciudad y los perros (1963: La ciudad y los perros) and The Green House (1966: La casa verde) the epic Conversation in the Cathedral (1969), Captain Pantoja and the Special Service (1973), and post Boom novels such as Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter (1977). Their works were experimentally realist works that drew upon Faulkner’s narrative and structural techniques to depict the complexity and violence of, respectively, Mexico and Peru. Cortázar and García Márquez, while sometimes writing in a realist mode, incorporated fantasy (notably the magical realism of García Márquez’s Cien años de soledad (1967: One Hundred Years of Solitude)) to create works that were at the same time ironic meditations on fiction.
The Boom writers married experiment, which could make considerable demands upon their readers, with gripping storytelling, humor, and a political edge, rendering their works commercially successful. Although the Boom can be said to have ended by at least the 1980s, Latin American literature by then having consolidated an international public with a younger generation of writers have come to the fore, some of the original Boom authors continue to produce distinguished work into the 21st century.
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