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Colombia: Blogs About Colombian Literature

Colombian literature is known worldwide primarily through authors such as Gabriel García Márquez and his book “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” However, “el Gabo” –as he is widely known– has become almost the only author that is referenced when talking about this topic. Because of this, and doing a merely illustrative search on the web, one can find blogs dedicated to discussing other authors (some recent and some older), and sharing analysis and literary compositions via the Internet.

This is the case with blog Grupo de estudios en Literatura Colombiana (Colombian Literature Study Group) where in their most recent post they talk about author Phillipe Potdevin and his book “La Otomana” (“The Ottoman”) [es] :

La Otomana narra la historia del profesor Scipino quien se enamora de Morgana, una docente que llega al Alto Meusa, lugar de recogimiento de varios intelectuales. Hacia el comienzo de la obra, Scipino roba unos documentos personales de Morgana en los que ella afirma que siente placer sexual sólo si es raptada o tomada violentamente. Scipino establece una relación sentimental con la docente y, en efecto, la somete por medio de ejercicios que conjugan la violencia sexual.

The Ottoman tells the story of professor Scipino who falls in love with Morgan, a teacher who arrives at the Alto Meusa, a gathering place for intellectuals. Towards the beginning of the work, Scipino steals some personal documents from Morgana in which she claims to feel sexual pleasure only if abducted or taken violently. Scipino establishes a relationship with the teacher and, in effect, puts her through exercises that combine sexual violence.

The blog El Ojo en la paja (The eye in the straw) analyzes the work of an editor and in one of its posts talks about author Mauricio Linares and his book “El Mariscal que vivió deprisa” (“The Marshall That Lived Quickly”) [es] saying that:

Tomé esta novela con muchas reservas. Primero porque el autor no me cae muy bien: considero que ha estado demasiado cerca del poder como para mantener su independencia como periodista y está –para mi gusto– muy adentro de la Casa Editorial El Tiempo, una empresa informativa que tampoco me cae nada bien. Además, en sus presentaciones, en sus columnas, en sus intervenciones públicas siempre lo he visto engreído y fanfarrón.

I took this novel with many reservations. First, because I don't really like the author: I think he has been too close to power to maintain his independence as a journalist and is, for my taste, deep inside the Casa Editorial El Tiempo, a media company that I don't like either. Moreover, in his presentations, in his columns, in his public speeches I have always seen him as being cocky and boastful.

When it comes to finding sources and content about Colombian literature as a whole, the blog Escritores Colombianos (Colombian Writers), provides an alphabetical list of  “poets, story tellers, essayists and playwrights born in Colombia” [es]. Bocanada de niebla (Mouthful of fog) is, “a traveling reader's logbook [es]” and each day of the week has especific content designated to it, ranging from photography, poetry and analysis. One of the most comprehensive literary blogs is Las Filigranas de Perder [es] (The Watermarks of Losing) where readers can find information on writing workshops, contests and other activities, news and readings.

There are blogs that concentrate on one literary style, like Science Fiction: Ciencia Ficción – Science Fiction [es] by blogger Juan Diego Gómez, El Pollo Hipnótico [es] (The Hypnotic Chicken) by David Pérez Marulanda and Mis textos literarios [es] (My Literary Texts) by writer Antonio Mora Vélez.

Readers that want to learn more about a specific author can visit blogs like Hijas del Delirio [es] (Daughters of Delirium) which focuses on the well-known (and highly-recommended) Colombian writer Laura Restrepo. On their first post [es] the “daughters of delirium” list the 10 commandments for the group that make up this blog. Some examples are:

1. Escucharás y leerás a Laura Restrepo embobada.
[…]
5. Honrarás la idea y la palabra.
6. No dejarás de leer mientras los ojos aguanten
[…]
8. No te resistirás a que la literaturacambie tu vida.
9. Escribirás hasta en las servilletas del McDonalds

1. Thou shalt listen to and read Laura Restrepo fascinated
[…]
5. Thou shalt honor ideas and the word
6. Thou shalt not stop reading as long as your eyes can take it
[…]
8. Thou shalt not resist literature from changing thy life
9. Thou shalt write even on McDonalds napkins

It is also possible to find blogs with literary compositions that were made taking advantage of the tools of cyberspace. El ático [es] (The Attic) was a literary magazine until 2009, which published analysis of several authors and texts. Gavia is the cultural and literary magazine of the University Francisco José de Caldas in Bogotá [es]; and there is also Devaneos para siete noches (Ramblings for seven nights), a blog by Professor Carlos Arturo Gamboa, where, for example, he  shares his poem “Cuando somos dos” [es] (“When we are two”).

A theme that some don't want to consider literature but that is definitely fashionable right now is vampires, and of course, there are Colombian fans of these book sagas and movies who can read the blogs Twilight Colombia [es] (previously Crepúsculo Colombia Cullen [es] (Twilight Colombia Cullen)) and Conexión Vampírica Colombia [es] (Vampire Connexion Colombia).

Colombian literature has a lot to offer, and to prove that, there are also programs that promote reading and creative writing workshops that were created under the framework of government. Some of them are: Libro al viento [es] (Book to the wind), REDNEL [es] (National Network of Literature Students), Short-story Workshop – City of Bogotá [es] and Literary Workshops – City of Bogotá [es] (Facebook group).

These blogs are only some of the places on the Internet where Colombian literature is the protagonist. BlogsColombia provides an extensive list [es] of other Colombian literary blogs. But this outline of Colombian narrative cannot end without mentioning author Andrés Caicedo, whose work is “considered one of the most original in Colombian literature” [es]. He is correctly cited on Wikipedia, where Colombian literature is defined [es]:

(…) es mestiza, tropical y diversa. La lucha constante de los legados español, indígena y negro, y la lucha misma en contra de manifestaciones exteriores, producen en Colombia la constante búsqueda por una voz nacional.

(…) it is mixed, tropical and diverse. The constant struggle of the Spanish, indigenous and black legacy, and the struggle itself against exterior manifestations, produce in Colombia a constant search for a national voice.

Finally, I want to mention that this is, as I said earlier, the product of a merely illustrative search and is not intended to provide a comprehensive picture of Colombian literature on the Internet. I must have missed a lot of blogs dedicated to books, authors and literature in general, so I ask for your understanding and I will thank in advance those readers who know about other blogs and want to leave the corresponding links in the comment section of this post.

Thumbnail image by Flickr user Eduardo! used under a Creative Commons license.

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