The timely publication of this volume attests to the increased interest among U.S. Latin Americanists in the study of gay and lesbian themes in works by Latin American writers. The first and only sourcebook of its kind, it constitutes a valuable research tool for anyone working on issues of gender and sexuality in Latin American cultural production. Hundreds of texts by more than 130 Latin American authors are presented, along with biographical information and a complete bibliography on each author, including all pertinent criticism. The large number of U.S. Latino authors (more than 10 percent) also makes the book an important resource for students of ethnic literature. With entries prepared by more than 60 scholars, employing a range of methodological approaches, and an excellent introductory essay by Lillian Manzor-Coats, this volume will be useful to all scholars interested in the developing fields of gender studies and “queer theory.”
Editor David William Foster’s selection parameters encompass writers who have identified themselves as gay or lesbian, whose works portray gay or lesbian themes, or whose works present what Foster describes as “something like a gay sensibility.” This last category, obviously somewhat subjective, refers to authors whose works lend themselves to a “queer reading practice”; in other words, interpretation from a “homocritical” perspective. (For an outstanding example of such a reading, see Luz María Umpierre’s essay “Lesbian Tantalizing in Carmen Lugo Filippi’s ‘Milagro, Calle Mercurio,’” in ¿Entiendes? Queer Readings, Hispanic Writings, edited by Emilie L. Bergmann and Paul Julian Smith, 1995).
Foster provides insightful and informative entries on works by authors commonly associated with gay and lesbian thematics or homoeroticism, such as Gloria Anzaldúa, Reinaldo Arenas, Adolfo Caminha, José Lezama Lima, Cherríe Moraga, Silvia Molloy, Cristina Peri Rossi, Virgilio Piñero, Manuel Puig, Manuel Ramos Otero, and Luis Zapata. Also included are some of the very first attempts to examine the homoerotic content of works by such solidly canonized authors as Jorge Luis Borges, Ricardo Güiraldes, José Hernandez, Sor Juana Inès de la Cruz, and Gabriela Mistral. In addition, a number of lesser-known writers, both contemporary and historical, are introduced, such as Francisco Alarcon, Nancy Cardenas, Renato Pellegrini, and Achy Obejas. Clearly there are omissions, but the text is remarkably thorough, given that this is a relatively new field of inquiry whose critical practice and object of study exist under varying degrees of homophobic prejudice and repression.
A reference volume whose time has come, this book serves as a companion text to Fosters own historical study, Gay and Lesbian Themes in Latin American Writing (1991), and to two other important collections of ground-breaking essays, the above-mentioned ¿Entiendes? and the forthcoming Sex and Gender in Latin America, edited by Daniel Balderston and Donna J. Guy.