Rewriting the Iberian Female Detective

Deciphering Truth, Memory, and Identity in the Twenty-first-century Novel

Authored by: Antonia L. Delgado-Poust

The Routledge Companion to Iberian Studies

Print publication date:  March  2017
Online publication date:  March  2017

Print ISBN: 9780415722834
eBook ISBN: 9781315709895
Adobe ISBN:


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Following the death of Francisco Franco in 1975 as well as the subsequent Transition to democracy and desencanto felt throughout Spain, the novela negra was the genre of choice for many Spanish writers who sought to expose the existing socio-political concerns of the moment. As Shelley Godsland articulates in her analysis of women’s crime fiction in Spain, the novela negra is a sub-genre that, like its North American predecessors, features a “lone private eye very much at odds with the social environment within which he operated, investigating crimes that uncovered high-level corruption and law-breaking as well as other ills that plagued society” (2007, 6). The perceived failure of the democratic system and the (un)official compulsion to suppress any memory of a painful, inconvenient past or truth have contributed to the overwhelming popularity of crime narrative on the Peninsula. Nevertheless, Godsland reminds us that female-authored crime fiction tends to be overlooked in both national and international explorations of the genre, an oversight that she insists literary scholars must rectify. Since the turn of the millennium, various female Peninsular novelists have endeavored to give voice to marginalized individuals – women, in particular – whose stories were silenced for far too long. As a result, women writers offer a perspective that departs from the official version of the truth. By unearthing the details of, or shedding new light on, an obscure past and crime, their unconventional detectives or killers are compelled to reflect not only on the problematic concepts of truth and fabrication, but also upon their own past and identity as well.

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