The African Heritage of Latinx and Caribbean Literature

forthcoming from CUP

Quesada, Sarah. “The African Heritage of Latinx and Caribbean Literature”

Cambridge University Press, 2022

The African Heritage of Latinx and Caribbean Literature unearths a buried African archive within widely-read writers of Latin American descent from the last fifty years. It challenges dominant narratives in World Literature and transatlantic studies that ignore Africa’s impact in broader Latin American culture. Sarah Quesada argues that these canonical works evoke textual memorials of African memory.  She shows how the African Atlantic haunts modern narratives of Latinx and Caribbean writing, and examines the disavowal or distortion of the African subject in the constructions of national, racial, sexual, and spiritual Latinx identity. Quesada shows how themes such as the 19th century “scramble for Africa,” the decolonizing wars, Black internationalism, and the neoliberal turn are embedded in key narratives by Gabriel García Márquez, Alejo Carpentier, Junot Díaz, Achy Obejas, Rudolfo Anaya, and Tomás Rivera and in conversation with African literatures. Drawing from multilingual archives about Africa and fieldwork at the UNESCO Slave, she examines how the legacies of colonial French, Iberian, British and U.S. Imperialism have impacted this South-South relationship. Bridging African, Latinx, and Latin American studies over a forty-year period, this is the first book-length project to address the African colonial and imperial inheritance of a broader Latinx literature.

“By rehabilitating and privileging the African archive in her account of Latinx/ Caribbean relations, Sarah Quesada’s book provides a fresh and very welcome installment to debates about Pan-Africanism. But, here, Pan-Africanism is more than just an aspirational political project, long distracted by the cynical pragmatism of political leaders. Rather, it is a work of re-animation that will redefine African and African diasporic relations through a well-grounded and nuanced humanities perspective. This book is a magnificent gift offering.”
Ato Quayson, Stanford University

“Beautifully written, well researched, and bold in its formulations, The African Heritage of Latinx and Caribbean Literature is an important intervention in the reading of Latinx and Latin American literature, widely defined. The brilliance of the book is manifest in the analysis, in which Sarah Quesada unearths discreet connections to Africa and unfolds them into an ambitious and successful recartography of the Atlantic through a Latin America–Africa axis that is very persuasive and unique.”
Ignacio Sánchez Prado, Washington University in St. Louis