This essay addresses the cultural and political agendas that influence the selection of Latin American novels to be translated by U.S. publishers and the reception of these novels by U.S. readers. Focusing on two Latin American writers who have had enormous success in the U.S., the author traces the shift from the magical realism of Gabriel García Márquez in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, to the gritty realism of Roberto Bolaño, and asks what these different paradigms can tell us about stereotypical U.S. notions of Latin American cultural and political realities. Although Bolaño's work ostensibly realigns the coordinates of the Latin American novel, breaking with the model of magical realism, it too foments a (pre)conception of alterity that satisfies the fantasies and collective imagination of U.S. cultural consumers. Citing the extremely low numbers of Latin American works translated and published in the U.S. yearly, she attributes this (pre)conception in part to the very small list of Latin American works available to U.S. readers—a list that comprises only a fraction of the total literary production of the region.

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