Young Cuban literature: diversification and globalisation

A new way of writing is emerging in Cuba which doesn’t have the island as the centre of its concerns.

Foto: Jorge Luis Baños_IPS

Every time I have been a jury member in some of the many literary contests summoned in Cuba, I have become convinced that a young literature is opening a path in the country, a literature whose formal excellences and concerns alien to the sociologism of the 1990s allows for appreciating a rupture with previous generations.

The island’s young writers do not escape from the phenomenon of globalisation or of the influence of the audiovisual world and this is because frequently it is seen, especially in fiction, that there is a transferring of the subject matter toward undetermined contexts or areas of the world that on occasions are only known by its authors through references taken from Internet or from the serials and films of which they are fervent consumers.


Already in the prologue of an anthology by Cuban critic and narrator Alberto Garrandés under the title of “La insula fabulante” and published by LetrasCubanas in 2008, the researcher warns that “the solicitous social investigations present in the 1990s ceded little by little a place to the re-centred imagination in the individuality and favoured the return to the space of the subject.”


That imagination in the work of authors like Jorge Enrique Lage, just to cite an example, moves toward a futurism that many times is charged of irony, where the elements of the present are hyperbolised up to the absurd and where it is possible to appreciate a strong charge of cinematographic resources that make of the literary result an exercise of what we could call a “cultural cannibalism.”


The interference between the genres is present in works like those of AhmelEcheverría, who combines fiction, poetry and essay in a playful game that involves the reader in a very urgent way.


It is also fair to point out the great flourishing of science fiction frequently in its modality of speculative fiction, which means the use of the fantastic element to philosophise about the present that is not only related to Cuban reality but also to the international situation.


Many women appear on the list of most outstanding authors, like Legna Rodríguez, Jamila Medina or Elaine Vilar, who assume the gender focus not like in the 1990s, in which a reaffirming search was well-known, but rather through a certainty of empowerment that is manifest in the rupture with all types of taboos and with an absolute dominion of the language, understood as a right and not as a demand.


It is amazing among the young Cuban writers how rapidly they are capable of acquiring a trade and even a style and the proliferation of their incipient work which in many cases is beyond a dozen books when they have still not reached the age of 35.


And despite the existence of some detractors, it seems fair to highlight in this emergence of young Cuban literature the role played by the Onelio Jorge Cardoso Training Centre, headed by Eduardo Heras León and in which many of the names that today make up the list of the best of the island’s writing in this millennium have been trained.


Another of the most well-known characteristics of this so-called Generation 0 is its approach to essay writing, a genre that in the past was set aside for older writers, who only with the passing of the years could have the arsenal of necessary knowledge to undertake a serious study of any manifestation or author to which they dedicated pertinent reflections.


Poetry is also a field in which young people are not left behind. Suffice it to cite the already consolidated works by Oscar Cruz, Luis Yussef or Sergio García Zamorawho in their stylistic and thematic diversity give us a dimension of those individualities which point to what is written today in Cuba.


As many of them have even pointed out, the Generation 0 is characterised by its lack of a collective sense that groups them in some magazine or some manifesto where the common characteristics that they do not have are enunciated and that for the researcher constitutes a veritable obstacle when enunciating ways of doing and themes that identify them.


The appeal to the virtual world and the irruption of the new technologies are also appreciable in the texts where, as Garrandés says, “the characters first dedicate themselves to the construction of themselves and after, or simultaneously, to the construction of micro-worlds with osmotic qualities, populated by them and others like them.”


The question of the human, he rightfully adds, is the question of the language and the expression of the ego.


It is encouraging to see in the eyes of the young people the overcoming of characteristics of previous generations with respect to subjects like the discrimination against women and racism.


Diversity and globalisation combine in a literature that still has much to say. (2016)

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