The OF Blog: Fantasía 'Made in Spain'

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Fantasía 'Made in Spain'

As I do on occasion, I occasionally browse through the sites that I have bookmarked and just now I was reading through some of the posts over at Los Espejos de la Rueda when I saw this article from the Spanish newspaper El País.

Since I do not have the time to do a word-by-word translation from Spanish to English, I'll just summarize the gist of the article. Over the past few years, perhaps due in part to a generation of Spanish youth being exposed to the forms and conventions of heroic fantasy (Tolkien in particular, recently Rowling), home-grown fantasy and now science fiction is starting to make in-roads with the book buying populace who wants something more than just a pale xerox of the Anglo-American authors.

There are many forms and styles that the authors are experimenting with these days: epic fantasies, historical fantasies, tales of the paranormal, old-style SF, etc. Influences are also diverse, ranging from Julio Cortázar to the ancient Greeks and all steps in-between and around these two. At one of the largest Spanish-language imprints for SF, Minotauro, the number of native Spanish writers has gone from 15% to 30% of the catalog in the past four years, a remarkable achievement. Print runs are still small by American standards (averaging around 2,000 copies), but are growing rapidly.

The article concludes with the rather commonplace explanations for this expansion (desire to explore vistas outside of today's ordinary routines; there has been a long tradition of combining the magical with the ordinary in works by Gabo and Juan Rulfo, among others), before listing some of the Spanish-speaking authors that are starting to make a name for themselves in Spain and in Latin America. One of those, Liliana Bodoc, had an interesting book description for her first book in an epic fantasy-like trilogy, so I decided to take a chance and see how it would be alike (and different from) English-language epic fantasies, especially since her setting is in the aboriginal Americas and combines elements of historical fantasy with the epic, according to the Publishers Weekly summation of it. I'll try to read/review that in the coming months.

Just thought this was an interesting article that many of us might want to read. Remember you monolinguals: The machine translations can help you just enough to understand the bare basics of the article, which ought to be reason enough to try reading it even if your mastery of Spanish isn't all that great, no?

2 comments:

Pierre Bellamont said...

This is something that scares me. Genre fiction and the world! If I were to craft a list of top 100 films, it would be utterly dominated and pulverized by non-English works (Almodovar, Bergman, Kurosawa, etc). If I were to make a list of favorite literary works, foreign works would not quite dominate but would feature very very prominently (Dostoevsky, Kundera, Kafka, Goethe, Borges, Kobo Abe, Kenzaburo Oe, etc and etc.)

What about genre works? Fantasy, sci-fi, speculative fiction. I am afraid that almost every single work I read in the area an original English-language work. Is there a large Spec. Fiction world out there beyond the Anglaphone menace? Are these works just not translated? I like to get many different points and view and perspectives in my works. Of course Kobo Abe, Kafka, Borges and even people like Murakami utilize the fantastic. Maybe it isn't a ghetto like the English world.

Just worried is all.

Maria A said...

Judging from my visit last summer, Russian fantasy seems to be thriving. :) Aside from the Night Watch books however, I don't know if many of them get translated.

 
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