Spanglish, an important new literary language

An interesting piece by the always interesting Ilan Stavans in a new French literary mag on the doormat describes briefly how in the States, with the success of Junot Díaz’s killer novel The brief wondrous life of Oscar Wao and other stuff, Spanglish has moved from the rebellious, designed-to-be-misunderstood fringe to the mainstream. What we are seeing, he is on the verge of saying, is the emergence of another major literary language, for all that the absurd Royal Spanish Academy denies the very existence of the phenomenon. Interestingly Díaz says Oscar Wao uses code swapping, not Spanglish, but I don’t see that the former necessarily excludes the former.


  • Sometimes Spanglish comes perilously close to fucked translation. There’s a nice bit in Valparaíso by Joaquín Edwards Bello where one character recounts how a Chilean resident in London cries “Between!” (“entre!“) when someone knocks on his door.
  • Booksmag doesn’t provide XML feeds, so that’s likely to be the last you’ll hear of it here. It seems a curious way of burning money.
  • Oscar Wao is as close as you’re going to get to resurrecting Ignatius J Reilly, so buy it before they film it.
  • There’s space for original (ie not purely promotional/you lick mine, I’ll lick yours) Hispanic literary blogs in my reader. Any suggestions?


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