As a student of Latin American literature, I always found it odd that in British academia we focus on only a handful of countries – Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru above all – while others are almost entirely ignored. The same pattern is evident in the relative success and availability of works from these countries, especially in English translation. The obvious assumption, which I have heard many times now, is that literature from other Latin American countries is not known outside its national borders because it is not good enough. There are many reasons for the relative marginalisation of these literatures, many complex cultural, political and economic factors, but literary quality is certainly not one of them.

Curious about why Venezuelan literature is so unknown in the UK, I started to investigate. I found it extremely difficult to find information online about where to begin: the Venezuelan Embassy listed authors and works of note, but no-one born after 1940, while Wikipedia’s list of Venezuelan authors jumbled journalists, poets, novelists, essayists and more without any hint to what their writing was like, the themes addressed or the relative merits of each. Eventually I took to Twitter, made Venezuelan contacts and got book recommendations from them. The next difficulty was getting hold of those books – many had to be delivered to me by friends visiting from Venezuela. When at last I actually got to read some books, however, I was hooked. Venezuela is currently experiencing a ‘boom’ (admittedly a loaded term when it comes to Latin American literature), producing extremely heterogeneous, often experimental texts. Of course, not everything is great, but the same can be said of literature from every other country.  The main problem, as I see it, is that it is a vicious cycle. Little is known of Venezuelan literature in the UK and it has not proved its worth in our literary markets. Publishers, ever more wary of losing investments, won’t take a risk on books that might not sell and therefore won’t publish English translations. Bookshops won’t stock Spanish versions either if there’s no proven market for them. Because the books are not sold or translated, it is naturally assumed that they aren’t ‘good enough’, and so the cycle continues.

The idea behind this site, then, is to provide a starting point. For anyone curious about Venezuelan literature, I hope it will provide an insight into the different types of writing coming out of Venezuela, and encourage you to get hold of these texts for yourself. I will provide links to where they are sold (or in some rare, delightful cases, given away as free PDFs) wherever possible to make that easier. Given what I explained above, most of these texts are currently only available in Spanish, but the ‘Published English Translations’ page will provide information on any texts which have made it into English, as I find out about them. Over time, I hope more works will be translated into English, and other languages, opening Venezuelan literature up to a much wider market. I hope to contribute to this myself, and will post translations on this site, providing the authors approve!

Most importantly, it must be stressed that this site is not intended in any way to create a canon. It is not an introduction to the ‘best’ of Venezuelan literature based on an objective analysis of all literature produced by Venezuelans. My research is still at a very early stage and I acknowledge that what I have read so far is just a drop in the ocean. Please take this site instead as a guide to works I have so far read and enjoyed in the knowledge that there are far more books and authors out there. I will update regularly as I read more and hope that the site will continue to grow with the help of other fans of Venezuelan literature.

Thank you and happy reading! If you have any questions, suggestions or would like to contribute please contact venezuelanliterature@gmail.com

Katie Brown, October 2012

UPDATE May 2016:

Nearly four years ago I launched this site full of enthusiasm for promoting Venezuelan literature. My love for the writing has only increased as more and more great books are coming out, but between completing my PhD and co-editing an anthology, I found myself with little free time. As a result, this site remains very much a work in progress. Bear with me!

10 thoughts on “About

  1. Katie!
    What a great project!
    Fíjate que estoy haciendo más o menos lo mismo pero en EE.UU. No tengo un blog como este pero hice mi tesis PhD de literatura venezolana contemporánea.
    También escribo ficción 🙂
    Además tengo varias ideas acerca de por qué la literatura venezolana no se estudia fuera de Venezuela. Es un fenómeno muy interesante.
    Let’s get connected. I already follow you on twitter and facebook, I mean, this blog. You can find me too: @naidasaavedra
    I’m also editing a online magazine and the first issue features Mario Morenza, maybe you would like to take a look: http://www.explorartmagazine.org
    Por favor vamos a conectarnos, de repente podemos hacer cosas en equipo.
    ¡Un abrazo desde la Florida!

  2. Katie! What a great project!!
    Yo estoy haciendo lo mismo más o menos pero en EE.UU. Hice mi tesis de PhD acerca de literatura venezolana en la Florida State University y estoy tratando poco a poco de introducir la literatura venezolana en las clases que doy y de conectarme con gente para establecer puentes. tengo además varias ideas acerca de por qué la literatura venezolana no se conoce ni se traduce fuera de Venezuela. Y estoy pensando en escribir un pequeño ensayo sobre eso.
    También escribo ficción 🙂
    I would love to work with you, maybe we can do things together. Let’s talk!
    I already follow you on Twitter and Facebook. You can find me too: @naidasaavedra
    I am also co-editing an online magazine and the first issue features Mario Morenza. Maybe you would like to take a look: http://www.explorartmagazine.org
    Conversemos, Creo que podemos hacer cosas en equipo, tú por allá y yo por acá.
    Un abrazo.

    Naida Saavedra

  3. Hi Katie!
    I want to make a good research about Venezuela and I have to use fiction books. If there are books you can recommend me about how inflation affects venezuelans, it will highly be appreciated.

    Thank you for your time,

  4. Hello, Katie!

    I’m extremely happy to have found this blog. I wholeheartedly encourage you to keep your research and to visit our country if at all possible, in the near future. We have many issues, but we’re not lacking from human warmth yet and you’d feel most welcome.

    As for recommendations, I’d suggest you read “La Mano Junto al Muro” by Guillermo Meneses (Here’s the link http://www.cervantesvirtual.com/obra-visor/la-mano-junto-al-muro–0/html/ff61c302-82b1-11df-acc7-002185ce6064_2.html), “Pataruco” by Rómulo Gallegos (Here’s the link to that one http://www.cervantesvirtual.com/obra-visor/pataruco-1919–0/html/ff601ee4-82b1-11df-acc7-002185ce6064_2.html), and “Humor y Amor” by Aquiles Nazoa, which is a much lengthier book and thus I’d be unable to hand you a proper link to it.

    You have my gratitude for your work and your effort, and I say this as a human being, as a Venezuelan and as a writer myself. Keep it up! D.R.

  5. Hi Katie! Love yur page and let´s go for!

    That handfull of countries that you listed above were viceroyalties of the Spanish and Portuguese Empire and so, historically centers of culture for the New World, and still be like that: modern cultural centers today, that might responds why the focus on them and therefor others countries are ignore. I doesn´t mean has to stay like that. The funny thing is that Gabo grow as a Writer when he was and ilegal inmigrant in Venezuela and others writers had come to our beutiful Venezuela to get ideas for their books!

    Let´s work on it!

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