From aliens to African American creatures: Two examples of monsters in Ecuadorian short stories

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Por Wladimir Sanchez

(Ponencia publicada en Interdisciplinary.net, en el libro digital Monsters and the Monstrous: Myths and Metaphors of Enduring Evil, editado por Paul Yoder y Peter Mario Kreuter – El libro digital completo es descargable de la dirección indicada. Acá reproducimos la parte concerniente a la obra de Santiago Páez)

When the literary critics in general talk about Latin America, they often focus their attention on a limited number of books. This group is usually included in an ambiguous category called Magical Realism. Therefore, writers like García Márquez on the one hand, and Isabel Allende or Laura Esquivel on the other, have obtained much popularity in Europe and the United States as distinguished representatives of a literary trend.

This has produced horrible generalizations. In fact, many theoreticians suppose that any supernatural event in a plot written by a Latin American author is Magical Realism without doubt. They forget that there already exist better ways to approach a novel or a story with certain supernatural traits.

There are many monsters in the Literature of Latin America. It is possible to find some of them in the pre-Columbian oral traditions or in the legends during the Spanish domination or even in the Literature for children and teenagers. And monsters also exist in the plots of the Contemporary Literature for adults.

In Ecuador there is a pioneering book: Profundo en la galaxia (1994) by Santiago Páez. In spite of the fact that it got excellent reviews, the book is almost unknown abroad. Monsters of different types appear in Páez´s stories, which are a strange mix between the science of the West and the Andean tradition. I am going to focus on one specific plot: Yachak.

Another text that deserves special attention is La entundada (1971), by the Ecuadorian Adalberto Ortiz. Maybe for the first time in Ecuadorian Contemporary Literature it is possible to find a monster from the afro-Ecuadorian oral tradition. It is a unique creature: it seems to generate a bizarre psychological fear. At the same time, it seems to incarnate prejudices and ignorance. And finally, I would like to show that in the Andean countries it is possible to write Fantastic Literature that it is not necessarily Magical Realism.

 

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