Boullosa, Carmen (1954–)

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Boullosa, Carmen (1954–)

Carmen Boullosa, novelist, poet, and playwright, was born in Mexico City in 1954. In addition to being a prolific and widely published author Boullosa is also a distinguished teacher and humanitarian, having cofounded with Salman Rushdie the Mexico City House for Persecuted Writers and as of 2007 working on a second under the auspices of the City University of New York.

Many of her novels encompass historical themes—the time of Moctezuma, the colonial era in Mexico, the life and times of seventeenth-century pirates in the Caribbean, the life of Cleopatra. Intrinsic to Boullosa's historical interpretation of these eras are her concepts of memory and the authority of the author. Memory for Boullosa is fluid and ever-changing; it relies on individuals' perception of reality and how they interpret it, depending on their personal desires and fears. Similarily narrative meaning for Boullosa is not constructed based solely on the author's intention; instead she requires active reader participation, often characterized by an open dialogue with her readers that pulls them into the narrative by addressing them directly and inciting them to construct, for themselves, the meaning of what they are reading.

There are also postmodern tendencies in Boullosa's writing, such as the questioning and challenging of predetermined notions of female identity and the inherent struggle women undertake for the power of authentic uncensored self-expression within the patriarchal socio-cultural context. Boullosa does not profess to be a feminist writer, but rather, a writer who also happens to be a woman. Her writing embodies a belief in the philosophical liberation of consciousness from predetermined and restrictive roles, and recognizes that the sociopolitical issues that affect women's perception of self-identity also affect men. Many of Boullosa's fictional protagonists recognize not only the value of language but also the control it exercises over their lives, and in so doing enable themselves to appropriate it, with all its figurative limitations, for their own self-expressive uses.

See alsoCastellanos, Rosario; Literature: Spanish America.


Selected Works by Boullosa; Essays and Narrations

Papeles irresponsables [Irresponsible Papers]. Publicac, Mexico: Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, 1989.

Selected Works by Boullosa; Novels

Mejor desaparece [Better Disappear]. México, D. F.: Oceano, 1987.

Antes [Before]. Mexico, D. F.: Vuelta, 1989.

Son vacas, somos puercos: Filibusteros del mar Caribe. Mexico, Ediciones Era, 1991. Translated by Leland H. Chambers as They're Cows, We're Pigs. New York: Grove Press, 1997.

Llanto: Novelas imposibles [Cry: Impossible Novels]. Mexico, D. F.: Ediciones Era, 1992.

El médico de los piratas: Bucaneros y filibusteros en el Caribe [The Pirates' Doctor: Buccaneers and Freebooters in the Caribbean]. Madrid, Spain: Ediciones Siruela, 1992.

La milagrosa. México, D. F.: Ediciones Era, 1993. Translated by Amanda Hopkinson as The Miracle Worker. London: Cape, 1994.

Duerme [Sleep]. Madrid: Alfaguara; New York: Vintage Books, 1994.

Quizá [Perhaps]. Caracas: Monte Avila Editores, 1995.

Cielos de la Tierra [Earth Skies]. México, D. F.: Aguilar, Altea, Taurus, Alfaguara, 1997.

Treinta años. Col. del Valle, México, D. F.: Alfaguara. 1999. Translated by Geoff Hargreaves as Leaving Tabasco. New York: Grove Press, 2001.

Prosa rota: Cuatro novelistas en una sola autora [Broken Prose: Four Novelists in only One Author]. México, D. F.: Plaza and Janés, 2000.

De un salto descabalga la reina. Madrid, Spain: Debate, 2002. Translated by Geoff Hargreaves as Cleopatra Dismounts. New York: Grove Press, 2003.

La otra mano de Lepanto. México, D. F.: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2005. Translated as Lepanto's Other Hand. México, D. F.: Fondo de Cultura Económica 2005.

La novela perfecta: Un cuento largo [The Perfect Novel: A Long Short Story. México, D. F.: Alfaguara, 2006.

Selected Works by Boullosa; Plays

Teatro herético [Heretical Theater]. Puebla: Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, 1987.

Pesca de piratas [Fishing for Pirates]. México, D. F.: Radio Educación, 1993.

Mi versión de los hechos [My Version of the Facts]. México, D.F.: Arte y Cultura Ediciones, 1997.

Los Totoles [The Totoles]. México, D. F.: Alfaguara, 2000.

Selected Works by Boullosa; Poetry

El hilo olvida [The Thread Forgets]. México, D. F.: La Máquina de Escribir, 1979.

Ingobernable [Ungovernable]. México, D. F.: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México 1979.

Lealtad [Loyalty]. México, D. F.: Taller Martín Pescador, 1981.

Abierta [Open]. México, D. F.: Delegación Venustiano Carranza, 1983.

La salvaja [The Savage Woman]. Michoacán: Taller Martín Pescador, 1989.

Soledumbre [Solitude]. México, D. F.: Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, 1992.

Envenenada: Antología personal [Poisoned: A Personal Anthology]. Caracas, Venezuela: Pequeña Venecia, 1993.

Niebla [Fog]. Michoacán: Taller Martín Pescador, 1997.

La Delirios. México, D. F.: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1998.

Jardín Elíseo [Eliseo Garden]. Monterrey: Artegráfico, 1999.

Agua [Water]. Michoacán: Taller Martín Pescador, 2000

La bebida [The Drink]. México, D. F.: Fondo de Cultura, 2002.

Salto de mantarraya [Leap of the Manta Ray]. México, D. F.: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2002.

Secondary Sources

Castro, Holanda. Caos y productividad cultural. Fair Haven, NJ: Ediciones Nuevo Espacio, 2001.

Croquer Pedrón, Eleonora. El Gesto de Antígona: Herida y Representación en las Escrituras de Clarice Lispector, Diamela Eltit y Carmen Boullosa. Santiago, Chile: Editorial Cuarto Propio, 2003.

D'Lugo, Carol Clark. The Fragmented Novel in Mexico: The Politics of Form. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1997.

Dröscher, Barbara and Carlos Rincón, eds. Acercamientos a Carmen Boullosa: Actas del Simposio "Conjugarse en infinitivo—la escritora Carmen Boullosa." Berlin: Verlag Walter Frey, 1999.

Gunderman, Eva. Desafiando lo abyecto: Una lectura feminista de Mejor desaparece de Carmen Boullosa. Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2002.

Santos, Cristina. Bending the Rules in the Quest for an Authentic Female Identity: Clarice Lispector and Carmen Boullosa. New York: Peter Lang, 2004.

Vilches Norat, Vanessa. De(s)madres o el rastro materno en las escrituras del Yo. A propósito de Jacques Derrida, Jamaica Kincaid, Esmeralda Santiago y Carmen Boullosa. Santiago, Chile: Editorial Cuarto Propio, 2003.

                                           Cristina Santos

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