Aquellos años del boom. García Márquez, Vargas LLosa y el grupo de amigos que lo cambiaron todo

RBA, 2014 | Those Boom Years. Garcia Márquez, Vargas Llosa and the Group of Friends who Changed Everything

(Those Boom Years. Garcia Márquez, Vargas Llosa and the group of friends who changed everything) The fruit of ten years of research, more than 300 sources (oral histories, documentaries, letters, bibliographies and more) and endless trips across the Atlantic. And the result is overwhelming in both its thoroughness and rigor, although it reads delightfully like a novel or long report. It is undoubtedly the definitive work on the boom, destined to become required reading at all universities.

The Latin American Boom was an exchange of revolutionary solidarities and a polyphonic phenomenon that came together in Barcelona.
For many academics and experts, even today, the term Latin American Boom doesn’t refer to anything tangible. It is just a convenient label invented by a clever, renowned literary agent willing to do anything for her authors. Or the first great strategy in global literary marketing. But any skeptics will be won over after reading this work, because there is no doubt that the so-called boom of Latin American literature was much more than that: a tight-knit network of friendships, affections, interests and experiences shared over a specific period of time (from 1967 to 1976) in a particular city (Barcelona). The truth is that there were many centers of the boom (Havana, Buenos Aires, Mexico City), but Ayén shows in great detail why it’s boom with a capital B, for Barcelona, but also for Balcells, the “super agent”, who not only changed the rules of the game but also protected her authors like a mother.

Above all, this is a book of great journalism: cultural? literary? What does it matter? Great journalism in the style of Gay Talese. It is also a treatise (fortunately not academic) on contemporary Latin American literature; a varied collection of stories about the creators, agents and editors; their good choices and their mistakes, as they were human, after all. And a book about the memory of Barcelona, given that today the boom belongs firmly in the past. So it reads voraciously like what it really is: the comprehensive, intimate, essential story of a literary prodigy about whom it seems everything has already been said. Or nearly.