E. Luminata

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Lumen, Sep 1, 1997 - Fiction - 240 pages
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"Diamela Eltit is the prize-winning author of five novels that have attracted attention all over the Latin America, Europe, and academic circles in the United States. E. Luminata was published in 1983 when Eltit was participating in collective actions against Pinochet's military regime. This remarkable first novel broke with all established literary tradition and continues to astonish because of its intransigence and its refusals -- of plot, character, literary convention, and ideological positioning.

"E. Luminata consists of a series of scenes that occur at night when, because of the curfew, the city is supposedly empty of all but the military. Set in a public square, with a single protagonist -- a woman -- and a public of 'pale' people, the only illumination is the intermittent light of a neon sign. The uncanniness of those nightmarish, night-time years when 'something more unnameable than terror' prevailed is woven subtly into this staging of an area that witnesses a baptism, a filming, an interrogation -- abjection and surveillance. At the same time, Eltit speedly thwarts any temptation to read the square allegorically as public space and the illuminated sign as enlightenment: her allusions, puns, and verbal inventions work more as poetry than as narration, so we must repeatedly check back, follow the threads of connected metaphors -- read not for the plot, but the plottings. E. Luminata is not a novel to be devoured but to be carefully tracked through changes of pace and abrupt connections and disconnections.

"Ronald Christ has translated as a responsible participant in an unprecedented venture. Not only has he risen to many challenges of this complex novel but his afterword isa fine introduction to the novel and Eltit's aesthetic". -- Jean Franco

"Writing with an impressive language of transformation, Diamela Eltit draws the map of a fascinating, ambiguous, and, for some, terrifying territory that is truely feminine. A ground-breaking literary adventure into caverns of being and feeling, brilliantly conveyed to us in English by Ronald Christ and his team of translator-speleologists". -- Luisa Valenzuela

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E. Luminata

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In the preface of this, her first book (published in 1983), Chilean writer Eltit confesses that her works are difficult to read, which must have made translating E. Luminata a daunting task. Christ ... Read full review

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About the author (1997)

The winner of Guggenheim and Social Science Research Council grants, Diamela Eltit is the key figure in radical ficiton from Latin America. She has been translated into French, English, and Finnish. A professor at Santiago's Metropolitan Technological University, Eltit has taught at Columbia, Berkeley, Stanford, Washington, Pittsburgh, and John's Hopkins Universities. She was recently appointed Global Professor at NYU.

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