FICTION INTERNATIONAL, 16.2: CENTRAL AMERICAN WRITING, edited by Harold Jaffee and Larry McCafferty (San Diego State University: $8, paperback; 224 pp. illustrated). This journal issue of poetry, short prose pieces and interviews in translation from Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, Cuba and the United States, offers a contemporary literary view of the socio-political reality in Central America by well-known writers such as Claribel Alegria, Manlio Argueta, Leonel Rugama, and Roque Dalton, as well as by those less familiar to English-speaking readers, such as poet Octavio Armand.
The editors also include North American and South American writers sensitive or sympathetic to the cause of non-intervention. Among these, three interviews (two by Margaret Randall, with Nicaraguan poet-priest-Minister of Culture Ernesto Cardenal and with an activist nun, and Mario Benedetti's interview with Roque Dalton) go far toward fulfilling the editors' stated intention of broadening our understanding of this politically significant geographical area.
The absence, however, of writers of the stature of Guatemalan Nobel Laureate Miguel Angel Asturias, poets Pablo Antonio Cuadra and Otto Rene Castillo, as well as the omission of texts by Ernesto Cardenal, not only reduces the importance of this anthology as a source for Central American writing in translation, but also puts into question the editorial criteria for inclusion of writers and texts.