Contemporary literature: origin, characteristics, genres, authors - science - 2023
- From 1940 to 1990
- 1990 to the present
- Characteristics of contemporary literature
- Personal point of view
- Innovative narrative resources
- Magical realism
- Pressing topics
- Influence of World War II
- Fiction and non-fiction overlapping
- Classic fiction genre
- Ghostwriter Literature
- Graphic novels
- Children's literature
- Science fiction
- Blogging literature
- Contemporary literature in Mexico
- Representative authors
- Juan Rulfo (1917-1986)
- Laura Esquivel (1950-)
- Octavio Paz (1914-1998)
- Elena Poniatowska (1932)
- Contemporary literature in Spain
- Representative authors
- Javier Marías (1951-)
- Rosa Montero (1951-)
- Enrique Vila-Matas (1948-)
- Arturo Pérez-Reverte (1951-)
- Contemporary literature in Colombia
- Representative authors
- Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1927-2014)
- Laura Restrepo (1950-)
- Juan Gabriel Vasquez (1973-)
- Álvaro Mutis (1923-2013)
- Most important awards
- Nobel Prize in Literature
- Miguel de Cervantes Award
- Planet Award
The contemporary literature The contemporary movement includes all the literary manifestations that have occurred since postmodernity. It is defined by a period but also by its very particular style. Most scholars call all literary production after World War II in the 1940s contemporary literature.
This period extends to the present. Contemporary literature is characterized by fragmentation, unreliable storytellers, pastiche (imitation of styles and authors), changing narrative, non-linear presentation, and play and uncertainty in language.
Likewise, this literature is recognized for its historically postmodern content. This is related to the era of computers, robotics, mobile phones, globalization, among others. Now, some work or some writer could be considered contemporary if they share current stylistic, artistic or thematic qualities.
Under this concept, even some writers of other centuries seem contemporary. Much of contemporary literature comes from Western authors, although the term is not unique to European or American literatures.
In fact, globalization has made it possible to appreciate contemporary works written by many literary figures in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. In addition to novels and poetry, this literary style encompasses a wide variety of genres, such as traditional fiction and other forms adapted to the new reality (graphic novel or blog literature).
From 1940 to 1990
In the course of this half century, humanity has witnessed many changes. The end of World War II, the fall of communism in Europe, and the end of the Cold War marked the beginning of a new society.
In addition, technological innovations emerged such as the cell phone and the Internet, color televisions and digital discs (DVD), among others. It was also the era of new music, like hip hop, and the acceptance of new cultures.
Within all this wave of changes, literature was enriched with new genres. Many of these were a response to technological changes and the new social reality.
A feature of contemporary literature of this time was that many stories were based on reality and had a credible plot. During the first two decades, contemporary literature shared spaces with Modernism, preserving certain features, such as, for example, focusing on the characters rather than the plot.
In its further development until the 1990s, the contemporary shifted towards the description of harsh realities. Likewise, he focused his attention on exposing psychological problems such as exclusion and loneliness.
1990 to the present
The period from the 1990s to the year 2000 was characterized by globalization, growing concern about global warming, and the war on Islamic terrorism.
In addition, it is a decade marked by wars, natural disasters and a growing population. The biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression, the 2008 recession, also occurred, and many people lost their jobs.
Thus, contemporary literature received all these influences and fed on all these new contexts. In response to the communicational needs of society, new genres appeared.
The cyberpunk, the postcyberpunk, the new fantasy novels and the return to meter and rhyme in poetry are indicative of the new time.
Characteristics of contemporary literature
Personal point of view
Works of contemporary literature reflect the social and political views of their authors. These are shown through the characters, the connections with the events and the socio-economic messages of his works.
Innovative narrative resources
There is a break with previous narrative techniques.Contemporary literature uses avant-garde narrative resources, such as the modification of time and the presentation of the inner world of the characters.
The development of magical realism as a narrative technique represents a breakthrough in contemporary 20th century literature. This revolutionary technique is marked by a deep social and political character.
Most of the themes in contemporary literature relate to the crippling problems of the world today, such as globalization, race and gender, inequality, climate and environment, wars and terrorism.
Likewise, in this extensive list you can find other topics, such as politics and economics, ethics and morals, mass culture and the media, international crime and others.
Influence of World War II
Contemporary works of literature tend to be influenced by the prosperous lifestyle that followed World War II. This literary style has its roots in the devastation that war brought to the world.
Fiction and non-fiction overlapping
In contemporary literature the distinction between fiction and non-fiction can be blurred; This is known as crosses. Fiction writers base stories on real life events and can even include authentic material.
On the other hand, non-fiction writers bring historical figures to life by incorporating imaginary dialogue and scenes.
Classic fiction genre
This genre is made up of stories, novels, plays, poems, and movies. Everything is imaginary and invented, but it is presented as a mirror that reflects life and human experience, in a concrete or abstract way.
Now, the first way to distinguish contemporary fiction is that it will have universal truths and emotions that every human being can experience. In some way, it gives expression to emotions.
Similarly, fiction in contemporary literature is realistic, which means that it has the following characteristics:
- Contains characters that behave the way most readers would. The characters must be credible.
- The story is set in the present.
- The environment is a real place, or at least it looks like a real place.
- Events are events that could happen in real life.
- Dialogue is informal and conversational, and often includes regional dialects.
A surprising number of successful books are written by ghostwriters. But there are also ghost novels.
By definition, these authors do not have names and are only known by their peers and their dependent publishers.
The graphic novel is usually interpreted as a comic with a long narrative for a mature audience, published in hardcover or paperback and sold in bookstores, with serious literary themes and sophisticated works of art.
The last 20 years have seen a flowering of children's writing. Among the highest representatives of this literature are C. S. Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia) and J. K. Rowling (Harry Potter).
Science fiction is a very popular branch of contemporary literature. This is intertwined with the technological progress of the world.
However, science fiction literary works do not necessarily imply a solid scientific foundation. A writer can create a science fiction literary work to express an alternative point of view or concept.
Blogs (online magazine of individual or joint authorship) have become a new medium for creating literary works. There are even cases in which these creations have been turned into books.
Contemporary literature in Mexico
Until the mid-1940s, various narrative styles coexisted in Mexico. The realistic narrative inherited from the 1900s persisted, and the indigenous novel and reflections on being and national culture emerged.
Starting in 1947, contemporary Mexican literature began. This was influenced by American and European writers. Literary magazines appeared that grouped contemporary writers and published their works.
The groups took the name of the magazine that sponsored them and made this patronage a cultural trend.
The themes and narration techniques became coincident with those of other contemporary writers from other latitudes.
Juan Rulfo (1917-1986)
He was a writer, screenwriter and photographer born in the state of Jalisco. Two of his best works are Pedro Paramo Y The Burning Plain. The first is a novel and the second is a collection of short stories.
Laura Esquivel (1950-)
She is recognized worldwide for her novel Like water for Chocolate, which was released in 1989. This novel became the number one seller in Mexico for three years. It was also the subject of a hit movie of the same name.
Octavio Paz (1914-1998)
He stood out as a great Mexican writer, poet, and diplomat. Of its extensive production, the highlights Wild moon, Between the stone and the flower, The Labyrinth of Solitude, Sun stone Y Parole.
Most of his works have been translated into many languages around the world. After his death in 1998, Octavio Paz became the first Mexican writer to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
Elena Poniatowska (1932)
The author of Fleur de lis or The Night of Tlatelolco is one of the most prominent contemporary Mexican writers. This is demonstrated by distinctions such as the Cervantes Prize received in 2013.
Contemporary literature in Spain
From 1975 to the present, in contemporary Spanish literature there is a preeminence of the novel over other genres. The historical novel and the adventure novel, among others, dominate the literary scene.
It also covers topics that have been banned in the past, such as sexual freedom and other related topics. This literary production is regulated by the publishing markets and the literature awards.
In the same vein, literature now has a strong link with film production. In the adaptations, the filmmakers try to insert touches of the Spanish heritage and the peculiarities of this society.
Javier Marías (1951-)
He is considered by some critics as the best living contemporary Spanish writer. The following titles can be highlighted from his work: Heart so white Y Your face tomorrow.
Marías has received numerous awards, including the Rómulo Gallegos Prize in 1994, the IMPAC International Literary Prize in Dublin in 1997 and the Austrian State Prize for European Literature in 2011.
Rosa Montero (1951-)
She has been acclaimed both as a journalist and as a novelist. His novelsThe Delta function Y The madman of the houseThey have had overwhelming literary and commercial successes.
He has won the Qué Leer awards for the best book published in Spain, and the Italian Grinzane Cavour award for the best foreign book. He has also won the National Journalism Award several times.
Enrique Vila-Matas (1948-)
He has excelled in a variety of forms: film reviews, novels, essays, and film scripts. He wrote his first novel, Woman in the mirror, when I was a teenager.
Among the awards he has won are the Italian Bottari Lattes Grinzane Award, the French Jean Carriere Award and the Spanish Leteo Award. Vila-Matas's works have been translated into many languages.
Arturo Pérez-Reverte (1951-)
One of the most successful Spanish writers from the 90s onwards. His career as a war reporter has allowed him to take a very particular vision of life when capturing his works. Member of the Academy of Language, some of his most notable creations are The Dumas club (1993), The fencing master (1988) or The Flanders table (1998).
Contemporary literature in Colombia
The contemporary Colombian literary movement is highly influenced by the political history of the country. In novelistic production, themes such as internal war, drug trafficking, corruption, among others, are reflected.
Likewise, the national identity has come into force. Evidence of this is the large number of works on the political, cultural and social history of the country.
Simultaneously, new ways of telling stories have emerged; one of these is the use of magical realism.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1927-2014)
He was a Colombian novelist, short story writer, screenwriter and journalist. Known as El Gabo throughout Latin America, he is considered one of the most important authors of the 20th century and one of the best in the Spanish language.
His many accolades for this undisputed representative of magical realism include the 1972 Neustadt International Prize for Literature and the 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature.
Of his extensive literary work can be mentioned One hundred years of loneliness, The Autumn of the Patriarch, Love in the time of cholera Y A Chronicle of a Death Foretold.
Laura Restrepo (1950-)
She is a Colombian journalist and writer recognized for having developed a mix of reality and fiction to create a style that she calls "report style."
Of his work stand out Passion island, Cows eat spaghetti and his novel Delirium. This latest novel was awarded the Alfaguara prize in 2004.
Juan Gabriel Vasquez (1973-)
Juan Gabriel Vásquez is a writer known for his work The sound of the things when they fall. In this work, winner of the Alfaguara prize, it revolves around drug trafficking and the subsequent violence induced by Pablo Escobar.
Álvaro Mutis (1923-2013)
Mutis is considered one of the best Latin American writers of the 20th century. The author ofCompanies and tribulations of Maqroll el Gaviero (1993) was distinguished with prestigious awards such as the Xavier Villaurrutia (1988) or the Cervantes (2001).
Most important awards
With contemporary literature, awards and distinctions were expanded, being a sign of the need to promote reading and to give recognition to the great men of letters.
Some of the most recognized are:
Nobel Prize in Literature
Presented by the Swedish Academy, the first award was presented in 1901 to the Frenchman Sully Prudhomme. Some of the Latin American authors who have won this award are Juan Ramón Jiménez (1956), Miguel Ángel Asturias (1967), Camilo José Cela (1989) or Mario Vargas Llosa (2010).
Miguel de Cervantes Award
Awarded by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports of Spain, it is the most important award for letters in the Spanish language. Its first installment was in 1976 to Jorge Guillén and, since then, it has been received by notable writers such as Jorge Luis Borges (1979), Rafael Alberti (1983), María Zambrano (1988) or Juan Goytisolo (2014).
Created in 1952 by the publisher Juan Manuel Lara, it is the financially largest prize for a novel in Castilian. Each year chooses a winner and a finalist, having obtained it among others Torcuato Luca de Tena (1961), Jorge Semprún (1977), Gonzalo Torrente Ballester (1988) or Fernando Savater (2008).
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