Borinsky, Alicia

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Borinsky, Alicia


Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina; married Jeffrey Mehlman, a writer; children: two. Education: University of Pittsburgh, M.A., Ph.D., 1971.


Home—Boston, MA. Office—Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures, Boston University, 718 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02215.


Scholar, educator, writer, and poet. Boston University, Boston, MA, professor of Spanish, director of the Writing in the Americas Program, and member of the Boston University-Chelsea Management Team. Visiting professorships at Harvard University and Washington University, St. Louis, MO.


Boston University Metcalf Award for Excellence in Teaching, 1985; Latino Literature Prize for Fiction, 1996, for Dreams of the Abandoned Seducer; John Simon Guggenheim fellowship, 2002.


La ventrilocua y otras canciones, [Buenos Aires, Argentina], 1975.

Ver/ser visto: Notas para una analítica poética, Antoni Bosch (Barcelona, Spain), 1978.

Mujeres tímidas y la Venus de China, Corregidor (Buenos Aires, Argentina), 1987.

Mina cruel, (novel), Corregidor (Buenos Aires, Argentina), 1989, translation by Cola Franzen published as Mean Woman, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 1993.

Theoretical Fables: The Pedagogical Dream in Contemporary Latin American Fiction (literary criticism), University of Pennsylvania Press (Philadelphia, PA), 1993.

La pareja desmontable, Corregidor (Buenos Aires, Arentina), 1994.

Sueños del seductor abandonado: Novela vodevil (novel), Corregidor (Buenos Aires, Argentina), 1995, translation by Cola Franzen in collaboration with the author published as Dreams of the Abandoned Seducer, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 1998.

Madres alquiladas, Corregidor (Buenos Aires, Argentina), 1996.

Cine continuado (novel), Corregidor (Buenos Aires, Argentina), 1997, published as All Night Movie, Northwestern University Press (Evanston, IL), 2002.

Golpes bajos: Instantáneas, Corregidor (Buenos Aires, Argentina), 1999, also published as Golpes bajos/Low Blows: Instantáneas/Snapshots, University of Wisconsin Press (Madison, WI), 2007.

La mujer de mi marido, Corregidor (Buenos Aires, Argentina), 2000.

Las ciudades perdidas van al paraíso, Corregidor (Buenos Aires, Argentina), 2003.

Author's work has been translated, anthologized, and published in the Massachusetts Review, Confluencia, American Voice, Under the Pomegranate Tree, New American Writing, Tameme, and Beacons.


Alicia Borinsky's first novel, Mina cruel, published as Mean Woman in the United States, tells a story of sexual intrigue and power. The general of an unidentified country and his mistress, Rosario, are the book's focus as the author "explores the idea that the will to absolute political power, as a psychological construct, is closely tied to the sexual," as noted by Nation contributor Barbara Jamison. The reviewer also wrote: "Mean Woman's driving conceptual force seems closer analogically to a current of kinetic energy than anything that sits easily within the formal constraints the late-twentieth-century reader still tends to impose on the novel." For example, the two characters reappear in different guises throughout the book; Rosario is also known as Carmela, Cristina, the Friend, and Self-Made Woman. "Darkly humorous lines … about women abound," wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor in a review of Mean Woman. "With keen irony, Borinsky's disjointed narrative skewers … hypocrisies," wrote Yvonne Fraticelli in the Review of Contemporary Fiction. Fraticelli also noted: "In the midst of oppression, Borinsky finds cause for celebration in the courage and resourcefulness of women."

In Borinsky's 1995 novel, Sueños del seductor abandonado: Novela vodevil, published as Dreams of the Abandoned Seducer in the United States in 1998, the author reflects on diverse characters in what a Publishers Weekly contributor called "a riddle-plagued novel." The novel is a series of short vignettes that focus on various women, such as the barely teenage Clara, who strips for two gay lovers. Alan Tinkler, writing in the Review of Contemporary Fiction, called the novel "a postmodern exploration of society and love." Commenting on a story about ugly women being incarcerated unless they are rich, Tinkler noted: "Borinsky's novel is not crass; she finds value in the ridiculous."

In All Night Movie, published in Argentina as Cine continuado, the author writes about modern-day Argentina as a culture in chaos. "Here characters appear for a quirky narrative turn or two and then tumble back within the enfolding narrative's furious rush toward … nonclosure," wrote Joseph Dewey in the Review of Contemporary Fiction. Rain Taxi Web site contributor Amy Havel noted: "Driven by stunning prose and whirlwind of frenzied action, the novel presents an oddball cast of characters, most of whom have a very skewed sense of tender loving care." The wide cast of characters includes a group of renegade nuns looking for the "Scarred Girl" and members of an Eva Perón cult. Havel praised the book, noting that "the many voices that Borinsky has created eventually begin to chime together, and the pleasure of entering this other world really takes off."

Golpes bajos: Instantáneas, published in the United States as Golpes bajos/Low Blows: Instantáneas/Snapshots, is a collection of eighty-eight short stories. In one tale, "Voyage of the Millennium," the author tells the story of a woman who wins a contest only to commit suicide when she learns that her cat is not allowed to come along. In another tale, a man who will not conform to a culture of consumerism may face torture. "For readers who persevere, rewards lurk beneath the metafictional façade," wrote a Kirkus Reviews contributor. Naomi Lindstrom, writing in World Literature Today, noted that in these stories "ostentation, snobbery, consumerism, and fashion correctness are often the targets of satire."

Borinski is also author of Theoretical Fables: The Pedagogical Dream in Contemporary Latin American Fiction. This book of literary criticism focuses on South American writers from the 1920s through the 1980s, including Macedonio Fernandez, Gabriel García Márquez, José Donoso, and Manuel Puig. "While the selection of authors cannot be called broadly representative, it is successful for this book in that it presents writers with whom Borinsky has a special empathy and whose work she can discuss knowingly and imaginatively," wrote Naomi Lindstrom in World Literature Today. Lindstrom also noted in the same essay that Theoretical Fables "is a true pleasure to read."



Notable Hispanic American Women, Book 2, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1998.


Belles Lettres: A Review of Books by Women, summer, 1994, review of Mean Woman.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, February, 1994, M.S. Arrington, Jr., review of Theoretical Fables: The Pedagogical Dream in Contemporary Latin American Fiction, p. 939.

Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2002, review of All Night Movie, p. 1547; December 15, 2006, review of Golpes bajos/Low Blows: Instantáneas/Snapshots, p. 1231.

Library Journal, September 1, 1993, Mary Margaret Benson, review of Mean Woman, p. 220.

Nation, December 20, 1993, Barbara Jamison, review of Mean Woman, p. 775.

Publishers Weekly, July 12, 1993, review of Mean Woman, p. 73; May 4, 1998, review of Dreams of the Abandoned Seducer, p. 204.

Reference & Research Book News, March 1994, review of Theoretical Fables, p. 45.

Review of Contemporary Fiction, summer, 1994, Yvonne Fraticelli, review of Mean Woman, p. 210; spring, 1999, Alan Tinkler, review of Dreams of the Abandoned Seducer, p. 198; summer, 2003, Joseph Dewey, review of All Night Movie, p. 128; summer, 2007, Alan Tinkler, review of Dreams of the Abandoned Seducer.

Times Literary Supplement, March 21, 2003, Tim Glencross, "Tango Time," review of All Night Movie, p. 21.

Women's Review of Books, July, 2003, Martha Gies, "A Postmodern Challenge," review of All Night Movie, p. 34.

World Literature Today, autumn, 1994, Naomi Lindstrom, review of Theoretical Fables, p. 797; winter, 2000, Naomi Lindstrom, review of Golpes bajos: Instantáneas, p. 119.


Boston University Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures Department Web site, (October 14, 2007), faculty profile of author.

Rain Taxi, (summer, 2003), Amy Havel, review of All Night Movie.