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Prose Tangos

February 2004

A tradition of experimentation, a musical sense of language, and political bite—these seem to characterize the astonishingly rich literature of Argentina. From the wild linguistic inventions of Xul Solar (who influenced Borges, as we learn in a superb essay by Cecilia Vicuña) to the controlled intensity of Edgardo Cozarinsky and Ricardo Piglia, to the lyric beauty of Ernesto Sábato’s “Before the End” and Juan José Saer’s sinuous “Boundless River,” Argentina reminds us of the vitality of great writing. Both Tomás Eloy Martínez in “Reina’s Flight” and Rodolfo Walsh in “That Woman” bring a journalist’s eye and stylist’s prose to political “fiction” that is unnervingly true-to-life, while Alicia Dujovne Ortiz provides a passionate view of exile Argentine-style. We also take pleasure in the wit of Maria Fasce’s “Modern Hero,” the subdued erotic atmosphere of Graciela Speranza’s “English Craft,” and the finely-calibrated suspense of César Aira’s “Literature Conference.” And we celebrate translators Marina Harss and Amanda Hopkinson, who have made so many of these works available to us.