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Colombian literature

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Title: Colombian literature  
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Colombian literature

Culture of

Radio & Television

Nobel Prize winner in Literature, Gabriel Garcia Marquez for his masterpiece "One Hundred Years of Solitude"

Colombian literature, as an expression of the culture of Colombia, is heterogeneous due to the coexistence of Spanish, African and Native American heritages in an extremely diverse geography. Five distinct historical and cultural traditions can be identified, with their own socioeconomic history: the Caribbean coast, Greater Antioquia, the Cundinamarca-Boyacá Highlands, Greater Tolima and the Western Valley.[1]


  • Colonial period (1499-1810) 1
  • Emancipation and national consolidation (1780-1830) 2
  • Costumbrismo 3
  • Modern literature 4
  • Stone and Sky (Piedra y Cielo) 5
  • Nothing-ism (Nadaísmo) 6
  • The Boom 7
  • Contemporary authors 8
  • Disillusioned Generation / Generación Desencantada 9
  • Recent generations 10
  • Recent poetry 11
  • Narco literature 12
  • Poetry 13
  • Children's literature 14
  • References 15
  • See also 16

Colonial period (1499-1810)

Under the Spanish Empire, major literary topics included conquest narratives, chronicles, religious devotion, and love themes. Some of the best-known authors of this period are:

Emancipation and national consolidation (1780-1830)

The republic forces defeated the Spanish Empire in the Battle of Boyacá

During the process of independence, Colombian literature was strongly influenced by the political motivations of the moment. The main literary movements were close to Romanticism.

During the nineteenth century, political writing was led by Simón Bolívar. Local journalism was initiated by Antonio Nariño. The Colombian government established the first Academy of Spanish language in the American continent, in 1871.

Other relevant authors were:


In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the main topic in Colombian literature was the colourful depiction of peasant life, tied to strong criticism of society and government. This type of literature was called costumbrista literature. Some of the authors of this period are:

Modern literature

José Eustasio Rivera in 1928, author of La Vorágine, a novel that depicts the brutal slavery of the native American forced to harvest latex from the Para rubber tree.

Modernismo and modernism are reactions against the previous literature of Romanticism. Modernism's main topics are ugliness and mystery. The main modern writers are:

Stone and Sky (Piedra y Cielo)

The industrialization process in Latin America during the twentieth century generated new literary movements such as the poetic movement named “Piedra y cielo” (1939). Its main authors are:

Nothing-ism (Nadaísmo)

The violent events in Colombia during the 1940s and 1950s, such as La Violencia and the military government of Gustavo Rojas Pinilla, as well as a considerable urban expansion, influenced in the formation of the Nadaísta (Nothing-ist) movement, which was the Colombian expression of numerous avant-garde-like movements in the poetry of the Americas during the 1950s and 60s (such as the *Beat Generation in the United States and the Tzanticos in Ecuador). Nadaísmo included elements of existentialism and nihilism, a dynamic incorporation of city life, and a generally irreverent, iconoclastic flavor. Authors who were part of this movement include:

The Boom

Yellow butterflies are a distinctive feature in 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia

The Latin American Boom was a prolific period for Colombian literature.

Contemporary authors

/* New Literature */

Disillusioned Generation / Generación Desencantada

This generation groups a broad and ambiguous list of writers, poets who began to publish after the Nadaísmo movement (see above) in the 1970s. Poets like Giovanni Quessep, Harold Alvarado Tenorio, Juan Gustavo Cobo Borda, Elkin Restrepo, José Manuel Arango, Darío Jaramillo Agudelo, Augusto Pinilla, María Mercedes Carranza, and Juan Manuel Roca among many others, have been considered part of this generation, although they have differences in style, themes and ideology.

Recent generations

Some writers like Hector Abad Faciolince, Santiago Gamboa, Juan Sebastian Cardenas, Nahum Montt, Miguel Mendoza Luna, Sebastian Pineda Buitrago, Mauricio Loza, Ignacio Arroyave Piedrhíta, Antonio Garcia, Mario Mendoza, James Canon, Ricardo Abdahllah, Juan Pablo Plata, Evelio Rosero Diago, Antonio Ungar, Laura Restrepo, Ruben Varona, William Ospina, David Alberto Campos, Oscar Perdomo Gamboa, Juan Esteban Constain, Juan Álvarez, Antonio Iriarte, Esmir Garcés, Antonieta Villamil, Winston Morales, Efraim Medina Reyes, Ricardo Silva Romero and many others.[3][4][5]

Recent poetry

In recent decades, in Colombia there has been a significant number of poets of importance, who deal with urban issues and anti-poetry. Among them are Antonieta Villamil, Andrea Cote, Lucia Estrada, Felipe García Quintero, whose poetry has been recognized internationally.

Narco literature

During the early years of the 1990 decade it began to appear in Colombian literature the reality of the drug and political hereditary violence. Titles like The Reader (La Lectora) by Our Lady of the Assassins (La virgen de los sicarios) by Fernando Vallejo began to portray the new fears and obsessions that the country had acquired at this stage of violence. Cities are the new scene of such violence, after many year of being told as rural case. Recently, there were published works which made a more extensive approach to the issue of drug trafficking and the involvement of it in the lives of Colombians. Works written by Juan Gabriel Vásquez and Sergio Álvarez.


Children's literature

Some of the characters most recognized in Colombian children's literature and the popular imaginary are the stock characters created by Rafael Pombo, which are often found in nursery rhymes, familiar folk tales and in the textbooks for elementary school.

Other important children literature authors are:

  • Jairo Anibal Niño: with his works "La alegria de querer" (The joy of love), "Razzgo, Indo y Zas", "Catalino Bocachica" among others
  • Euclides Jaramillo: with the "Tales of Uncle rabbit".

From the 1980s, young adult fiction authors Gloria Cecilia Díaz, Irene Vasco, Evelio José Rosero, Yolanda Reyes and Pilar Lozano introduced new subjects for the genre such as conflict, kidnapping, death and fear. Recent picture book voices include the work of Ivar da Coll, Claudia Rueda, Jairo Buitrago and Rafael Yockteng.


  1. ^ "Colombia." by Robert L. Sims. Concise Encyclopedia of Latin American Literature. London: Routledge, 2000.
  2. ^ Biblioteca Virtual Luis Ángel Arango. Castillo y Guevara, Francisca Josefa De. Web. 11 September 2012.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^

See also

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