Friday, October 12, 2018

CILDE -- Latino Crime Fiction on Campus

I recently had the pleasure and honor of participating in the 8th International Hispanic Crime Fiction Conference, also known as CILDE, which stands for La Conferencia Internacional de Literatura Detectivesca en Español.  The Conference was held on the campus of Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, home of the Red Raiders and Buddy Holly.  This was the second time I made a presentation at Texas Tech, and I have learned that Tech is a place where Latino crime fiction is taken very seriously. The Conference is the product of the hard work of several people and organizations.  At the heart of the event are a couple of professors who have become my good friends: Jorge Zamora and Rodrigo Pereyra.  

These two educators are experts on all things involving crime fiction, especially Latino, Latin American, and Hispanic crime fiction. Drop the name of an author of Mexican noir, and these guys can tell you the twists in the plots of the author, or mention a Cuban writer of private eye tales, and Jorge or Rodrigo will give you the names of the Cuban's main characters.  Their work, and the work of the teachers and students who made presentations, eloquently put to rest the old arguments about whether this type of fiction is "Literature," and whether such writing can command the respect of academics, critics, and "mainstream" authors.

Aldona Pobutsky
This year's conference began with a bang, of course.  Aldona Pobutsky of Oakland University called her opening keynote Airing Mexico's Dirty Laundry through Crime Fiction:  The Poquianchi Scandal.  Using a  1976 Mexican movie as background, Pobutsky related the sordid true tale of a scandalous brothel that included corruption at the highest levels of government, murder, and exploitation and enslavement of women and children. She set the hard-edged tone for the Conference's later discussions about the power of crime fiction, the inherent opposition to the status quo found in most crime fiction, and the consistent ability of crime fiction to highlight and criticize current social issues.  

Pobutsky is completing a book manuscript on the cultural legacy of Pablo Escobar and his contemporaries, Branding Pablo Escobar. Her other projects include a book chapter on Pablo Escobar in the visual media to appear in the Colombia Reader, and an essay on real-life narco “trophy women” who had relationships with (and survived) the infamous drug lords from the Medellín and Valle del Norte Cartels. 

Here's the movie.

With Aldona Pobutsky and Lucha Corpi

Another special guest at the Conference was my friend and inspiration, Lucha Corpi.  Lucha spoke about her long, mysterious and complicated relationship with her main protagonist, Gloria Damasco.  Lucha's talk was entitled La página roja:  Gloria Damasco, Black Widow and I.  She related her experiences and conflicts with the prejudices against crime fiction held by fellow writers, even close friends.  But she also spoke about how her character, Gloria, guided her and revealed herself so that her stories could be told.  

One important point about Lucha's talk:  She announced that her appearance at the CILDE Conference would be her "swan song."  She does not plan to travel again outside of California to talk about her writing. Time for reflection about and appreciation for what she has accomplished with her writing.  My time with Lucha in Lubbock was time well-spent.

Lucha and I conducted a lunch time workshop, a great way to spend time with students and answer their questions about detective fiction and writing in general. Several young writers were in the group, which was highly encouraging.

A few of the students with Lucha Corpi and Manuel Ramos

The bulk of the Conference consisted of presentations on a variety of topics.  Titles for some of the talks will give you an idea about the diversity and depth of the research being done on Latino crime fiction.  For example:  

Nuevas versiones de la novela criminal centroamericana: Moronga de Horacio Castellanos Moya

La masculinidad hegemónica: Un análisis de las interseccionalidades en dos Tex-Mex Legal Thrillers de Carlos Cisneros

La Habana se desmorona: el cuento policiaco de Leonardo Padura

Spain’s “Country Noir” Genre: Dolores Redondo’s Baztán Triology

Cultural, Linguistic, and Historical Hybridity in Black Widow’s Wardrobe and Eulogy for a Brown Angel by Lucha Corpi

Espacio urbano, crimen e investigación en Regreso a la misma ciudad y bajo la lluvia de Paco Ignacio Taibo II y O Silêncio da Chuva de Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza
When it was my turn to talk, I couldn't avoid the political crisis that surrounds all of us, every day. My talk was entitled The Relevance (?) of Crime Fiction Escapist Literature in 21st Century USA. My conclusion, you might guess, is that such fiction is highly relevant in these times. One could say that writing crime fiction can be an act of resistance. In that spirit, I may publish my talk here on La Bloga, one of these days. 

The 8th CILDE was an outstanding success and I  know the organizers are already talking about, and planning for, the next get-together.  There's even talk of taking the show on the road, say, to Mexico?

Jorge Zamora, Manuel Ramos, Lucha Corpi

Congratulations to all those involved in producing and presenting this Conference.  More info about CILDE here.

On stage with some of the participants including Aldona Pobutsky, Rodrigo Pereyra, Lucha Corpi, and Jorge Zamora



Manuel Ramos writes crime fiction.  His newest book is The Golden Havana Night.  Launch party:  Tattered Cover (Colfax), October 22 at 7:00 p.m.  


msedano said...

She announced that her appearance at the CILDE Conference would be her "swan song."

Órale, Lucha, honored to share La Bloga space with noticias de su swangsong. I'm in California, my good fortune.

and speaking of Califas, Manuel, you can tell them to bring that show on the road to El Lay, Mexico.

Manuel Ramos said...

Anything's possible, Michael, especially if there's a university sponsor in the picture.