Fiction's frontier

There is debate over Gabriel Garcia Marquez's left-wing politics but hardly over the Nobel Prize citation of his fiction ''in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent's life and conflicts.'' The striking thing is that the same could be said of several other Latin American writers at the moment, not in the Nobel orbit perhaps but all part of an extraordinary burst of literary innovation and energy.

Some of this impression may be due to the excellent translations that are beginning to unlock the Spanish and Portuguese treasures for monoglot English-speaking readers. But there may be something about Latin America as a continent of political, cultural, and economic frontiers that brings questing literary talents to the surface.

At any rate, perhaps the Nobel committee's discovery of this Colombian author presages a wider discovery of those in various Latin countries who are stretching the horizons of today's printed page.

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