What might it mean to conceive of a work of art not simply as a mirror held up to society but as a means to visualize the abstract functions that make society look the way it does? And what can this tell us about the novel's social, political, and artistic potential today? To raise these questions, of course, is to presume that society exists and that works of art are still possible in a situation in which neither of these claims is self-evident, as suggested by recent tendencies within literary studies associated with “postcritique.” Nevertheless, it is this situation that the novelist Yuri Herrera and the photographer Alejandro Cartagena both aim to address within the context of Mexico, where neoliberalism's virtually seamless identification of development with the free market has precipitated the sense of a present from which the future has all but vanished. Rather than merely reflect this state of affairs, Herrera offers a sense of how the contemporary novel departs from this perspective, by taking up a version of the problem that Cartagena's photography similarly attempts to resolve—namely, how to make visible the abstract in the concrete.

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