Lina Meruane’s latest book, Viajes Virales: la Crisis del Contagio Global en la Escritura del Sida. [Viral Voyages: Latin American Aids Fiction and the Crisis of Global Contagion], has been published by Fondo de cultura Económica, Chile, in November 2012.
Writes NYU’s Mary Louise Pratt about Viajes Virales: In this arresting book, Chilean writer and literary scholar Lina Meruane tackles an almost untouched topic in Latin American Writing: the Aids literary corpus. Through exhaustive archival research, Meruane traces the development of “HIV-Positive writing” as a response to the urgent need to provide meaning to the epidemic that spread since 1980. In a luminous preliminary essay, the author identifies the central discursive axis: travel as the instrument of contagion; homophobia as the force that pushed gays from the south towards the northern capitals; the “impressive nomadism” of the virus. Thus Meruane´s brilliant observation: if the virus is an artifact of globality, it is also a key mechanism to represent globalization, that strictly imaginary object whose deceptive metaphor of flow reinscribes centers and peripheries. The epidemic, the viral model, appears as both the mirror and the flip-side of a new flexible and cosmopolitan capitalism. The singularity of the Latin American experience of the epidemic is articulated here with insight and rigor: the homecomings, the challenges to the State that abandons its protective functions, the erasure of women suffering from Aids. Closer to the texts, the second part of this book establishes the chronology and the tropology of the narrative corpus, from the fleeting references in Severo Sarduy’s Colibrí (1983) to the culminating performance by Daniel Link in La Ansiedad (2004). Well known already as a great novelistic talent, Lina Meruane firmly establishes herself, with this brilliant book, in the field of cultural criticism, as a powerful, eloquent and intrepid intellect.