What does literature reveal about a country s changing cultural identity? In History, Violence, and the Hyperreal by Kathryn Everly, this question is applied to the contemporary novel in Spain. In the process, similarities emerge among novels that embrace apparent differences in style, structure, and language. Contemporary Spanish authors are rethinking the way the novel with its narrative powers can define a specific cultural identity. Recent Spanish novels by Carme Riera, Dulce Chacon, Javier Cercas, Ray Loriga, Lucia Etxebarria, and Jose Angel Manas (published from 1995 to 2008) particularly highlight the tension that exists between historical memory and urban youth culture. The novels discussed in this study reconfigure the individual s relationship to narrative, history, and reality through their varied interpretations of Spanish history with its common threads of national and personal violence. In these books, culture acts as mediator between the individual and the rapidly changing dynamic of contemporary society. The authors experiment with the novel form to challenge fundamental concepts of identity when the narrative acknowledges more than one way of reading and understanding history, violence, and reality. In Spain today, questions of historical accuracy in all foundational fictions such as the Inquisition, the Spanish Civil War, or globalization collide with the urgency to modernize. The result is a clash between regional and global identities. Seemingly disparate works of historical fiction and Generation X narrative prove similar in the way they deal with history, reality, and the delicate relationship between writer and reader.
Kathryn Everly is an associate professor of Spanish at Syracuse University. She is the author of Catalan Women Writers and Artists: Feminist Views from a Revisionist Space (2003). She has published articles and chapters in Hispanic Journal, Catalan Review, Monographic Review, Letras Peninsulares, and in various anthologies. Her current research focuses on aspects of surrealism in the works of Merce Rodoreda.