Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Santiago Juan-Navarro

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Maida Watson

Third Advisor's Name

Maria Asuncion Gomez

Fourth Advisor's Name

Astrid Arraras


Contemporary Central American Literature, Postmodernism, Post-revolutionary Literature, Noir Fiction, Detective Fiction

Date of Defense



Contemporary Central American fiction has become a vital project of revision of the tragic events and the social conditions in the recent history of the countries from which they emerge. The literary projects of Sergio Ramirez (Nicaragua), Dante Liano (Guatemala), Horacio Castellanos Moya (El Salvador), and Ramon Fonseca Mora (Panama), are representative of the latest trends in Central American narrative. These trends conform to a new literary paradigm that consists of an amalgam of styles and discourses, which combine the testimonial, the historical, and the political with the mystery and suspense of noir thrillers. Contemporary Central American noir narrative depicts the persistent war against social injustice, violence, criminal activities, as well as the new technological advances and economic challenges of the post-war neo-liberal order that still prevails throughout the region.

Drawing on postmodernism theory proposed by Ihab Hassan, Linda Hutcheon and Brian MacHale, I argued that the new Central American literary paradigm exemplified by Sergio Ramirez’s El cielo llora por mí, Dante Liano’s El hombre de Montserrat, Horacio Castellanos Moya’s El arma en el hombre and La diabla en el espejo, and Ramon Fonseca Mora’s El desenterrador, are highly structured novels that display the characteristic marks of postmodern cultural expression through their ambivalence, which results from the coexistence of multiple styles and conflicting ideologies and narrative trends. The novels analyzed in this dissertation make use of a noir sensitivity in which corruption, decay and disillusionment are at their core to portray the events that shaped the modern history of the countries from which they emerge. The revolutionary armed struggle, the state of terror imposed by military regimes and the fight against drug trafficking and organized crime, are among the major themes of these contemporary works of fiction, which I have categorized as perfect examples of the post-revolutionary post-modernism Central American detective fiction at the turn of the 21st century.




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