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Ex aequo

versão impressa ISSN 0874-5560

Ex aequo  no.40 Lisboa dez. 2019

 

RECENSÕES

 

Nuevos horizontes en la literatura latina de Estados Unidos: Transnacionalismos, resistencias queer y sus manifestaciones en la web, editado por Macarena García-Avello. Palma: Edicions Universitat de les Illes Balears, 2018, 196 pp.

 

Andrea Fernández-García

University of Oviedo, Spain

 

 

García-Avello's Nuevos horizontes en la literatura latina de Estados Unidos (2018) concentrates on a lesser-known generation of US Latina writers who advance an epistemology built upon three intertwined aspects that are rarely discussed together: transnationalism, queer resistance, and the digital era. This line of thought is unveiled through a close reading of novels, poems, blog entries, tweets, and other online texts by Achy Obejas, Felicia Luna Lemus, Sonia Rivera-Valdés, Maya Chinchilla, Daisy Hernández, and Gabby Rivera. The book offers a thorough and original analysis of this corpus, which covers the period 2001-2015. In this sense, it showcases a link between transnationalism and queer identities in the context of the digital era, pointing towards a new direction in the field of US Latina literature. The term «Latinx» coined within internet queer groups, is smartly chosen to designate the texts framed within this new literary trend, as it destabilizes both national and gender boundaries. Thus, García-Avello's monograph represents a timely study that makes a worthy contribution to the last decade's interest in the conflation of transnationalism and queer identities in the network society and in an academic revisiting of long-established paradigms in the area of US Latina literature.

The book presents a coherent structure that makes it easy for readers to understand and follow the arguments presented. In this regard, it is neatly structured into three parts, each corresponding to one of the three aspects underlying the term «Latinx»: the creation of a transnational space, the subversion of a binary gender system, and the role played by the internet and Web 2.0. This organization contributes to foregrounding the new epistemology that the writers put forward and, even though each of its pillars is discussed in a separate chapter, the book brilliantly captures how the three enter into a dialogue with each other in the selected texts.

The first chapter, «Las arenas movedizas de lo transnacional,» concentrates on the transnational spaces depicted in the literary works under discussion. As the book makes explicit, this is an aspect that has been widely discussed in US Latina literary criticism. However, chapter 1 brings changes in the existing paradigm by paying attention to the ongoing, unresolvable dialectics between multiple national and cultural signifiers. Thus, rather than advocating for a synthesis as the expected outcome of those negotiations, the first part of the book places emphasis on the impossibility of any sort of resolution: «No existe una demarcación clara entre las fronteras, sino una superposición de tiempos y espacios que generan ambigüedad y tensiones que en ninguna de las obras llega a resolverse o a culminar en alguna clase de síntesis» (p. 63). In order to prove this thesis, chapter 1 devotes a substantial section to engaging with the classical and most recent theories of diaspora, showing the extent to which they can account for the transnational practices depicted in the texts. Issues such as interlatinidades, transnational politics, and strategic feminist subjectivities are also discussed at length here. In fact, some of these aspects are also central to validate the theses advanced in chapters 2 and 3. For this reason, the first part of the book is significantly longer than the other two and at times a bit too theoretical. Despite this slight imbalance, chapter 1 magnificently tackles complex issues that contribute to reading transnational literary spaces differently from prior cultural approaches.

The second chapter, «Espacios de resistencia queer,» connects with feminist and queer scholarship to analyze how the queer characters portrayed in the texts problematize heteropatriarchy, but are unable to totally break with dominant gender discourses. Thus, chapter 2 departs radically from simplistic approaches that equate queer identities with a total rupture of the binary gender system. This is not to imply that an acknowledgement of subversion is inexistent in this part of the book. As a matter of fact, García-Avello's study provides brilliant insights on the characters' transgressive praxis, which encompasses the formation of Latinx coalitions, gender disidentifications, and queer sexual practices. Even if this praxis destabilizes heteropatriarchy, the stress is laid on its inability to transcend it. In this regard, the notion of potentiality is elaborated on to theorize queer resistance as an ongoing and never-ending process: «Las representaciones latinx se disponen como potencialidades que tienden hacia un futuro que se escapa de las manos, promoviendo así una visión de la resistencia como potencialidad, es decir, como algo que no se define por la consecución de un objetivo concreto, sino que se entiende como un proceso incesante y continuo que en ningún momento llega a finalizarse» (p. 121). All this contributes to offering a groundbreaking reading of queer identities in US Latina literature, broadening the scope of analysis in the field.

The last chapter, «Latinx en la Web 2.0,» deals with how the digital media shapes the authors' works, focusing on how writing, politics, and activism are redefined in a capitalist and globalized context. It starts by tracing the genealogy of the term «Latinx» critically engaging with arguments in favor and against its use. One of the chapter's greatest virtues is its illuminating reflection on how the internet has eased the formation of transnational forms of activism that go beyond traditional politics. The writers under analysis are in fact presented as actors in this borderless politics. To illustrate this point, chapter 3 includes a smart analysis of some of the authors' online works, which range from their own websites to tweets, emphasizing interaction with the users as one of the aspects that sets literary texts and online writing apart. In addition, there is an insightful consideration of the transformative power of these online global debates, putting forward, once again, a view of resistance as «algo que nunca puede ser alcanzado, ya que necesita de una continua reiteración subversiva de las practices discursivas» (p.173).

On the whole, Nuevos horizontes en la literatura de Estados Unidos is a well-written and exceedingly well-researched study that reads US Latina literature through a different lens. By evidencing an interrelation between transnationalism, queer resistance, and the internet, the book redefines the US Latina literary tradition, opening up new avenues for further research in this domain.

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