Latin American-Jewish Writers: Protecting the Hyphen*
The hyphen is a useful commodity: It contributes to a unifying feature where none would be expected to exist. Comfort in itself is not, however, a determining factor of major works of literature. Literary discomfort, in its highest and most positive sense, is at the very core of the text that probes into its very own existence and questions its capacity to convey with mere words the enormity of the universe. When in addition to Latin American one adds the defining term Jewish, it is easy to recall astonished gazes and conflicting images of the accepted and simple cliches for both. In Latin American countries that have faced unparalleled repression, survival— perhaps the major motif of all Jewish literature— has also occupied a central role. Jewish motifs can be found throughout Latin America’s literary history, whether in the recreation of immigrants’ experiences, in the processes of adaptation, or the less kind perspective of anti-Semitic fiction.