Literature from the Peruvian Amazon

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When people read literature from the Peruvian Amazon they expect the story and characters to be exotic, colorful, attention grabbing, savage, extroverted, and anything else that goes beyond what is normal in the Amazon jungle. In its depths it is a representation of strangeness, with writers expressing the world they live in yet exaggerating it, opposed to themselves, for noble causes or just for money. In books published in Peru, it usually takes the following forms:

  • The Amazon River, expressed in what Luis Hernán Ramírez called “the singers of the Amazon.”
  • The forest, perhaps the most dominant and permanent expression up to the modern day, where the jungle is filled with mysteries and magic powers, and the plants and animals are represented strangely.
  • Indigenous peoples, who go from barbaric and savage personalities in Arturo Hernández’s “Tragic Jungle” to guardians of the forest and leaders of the ecological balance, as in a lot of the children’s literature of Orlando Sasanova and Germán Lequerica. It is also present in the pedagogical and anthropological excerpts of modern times.
  • Oral traditions, commonly called myths and legends, that reproduce, recreate, and repeat, looking for what is most attention grabbing, mysterious, dark, and enigmatic, like the story of “The Runamula” or “The Chullachaqui.”
  • New and diverse elements, like sensual women (“The virgin of Samiria” by Roger Rumrrill), exotic drinks, sex tourism, and hallucinogenic drugs such as ayahusca and the Kambo frog of the Matse.

These representations flood rural and urban literature from the region and make everything exotic, in addition to realist or symbolic elements. This was the subject discussed in the 12th annual Tarapoto Book Fair, paying homage to my friend Gavino Quinde Pintado. A well‑deserved recognition.

Literaturas Amazónicas, Editorial Pasacalle, March 20, 2020

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