Beyond Literary Landscapes—The Dictator Novel

From my early beginnings as a young introvert, the public library has always been a bit of a refuge.  Years later, not much has changed, albeit with an additional affinity for endless hours spent scouring second-hand bookstores to add to my ever-growing “to-read” pile.

From one bookworm to another, this column will be underscoring and outlining various literary genres, authors, and recent reads and can serve as an introduction for those unfamiliar with these works, as a refresher for long-time aficionados, and maybe as an inspiration for readers to share their own suggested topics.  Do you have a topic that you would like covered in this column?  Feel free to contact me for an interview and a feature in an upcoming column.


This week’s column considers a literary sub-genre of the Latin American novel, namely the dictator novel.


Some well-known examples of this genre include I, the Supreme (Yo, el supremo) by Paraguayan author Augusto Roa Bastos, The Autumn of the Patriarch (El otoño del patriarca) by Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez’s and The President (El señor presidente) by Guatemalan author Miguel Ángel Asturias.

Outside of the continent, students may also be interested in Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s Wizard of the Crow.


These novels are set throughout Latin America, including Paraguay, Colombia, and Guatemala.


These dictator novels take place in the 19 and 20th centuries.


These works may be of interest to AU learners who enjoy Latin American literary fiction, especially those interested in the Boom years, post-Boom years, and magical realism.  They may also be of interest to students who enjoy learning about themes of power, repression, and rebellion.  Finally, these novels may also prove appealing to AU History students who would like to learn more about the Latin American continent.


AU’s wide range of diverse courses make it easy to study this topic in depth.  Courses related to the dictator novel are available in a variety of disciplines, including ones that may fit into your Degree Works.  (Always check with an AU counsellor to see if these particular courses fulfill your personal graduation requirements!)

AU students interested in learning more about this topic may enroll in ENGL 458: The Latin American Novel, a three-credit, senior-level course, which focuses “on fiction and memoir written in the context of history, politics, culture, identity, and genre.”  (Please note that ENGL 211: Prose Forms and ENGL 212: Poetry and Plays are required as prerequisites).

Students may also be interested in GLST 308: Americas: An Introduction to Latin America and the Caribbean, a senior-level, three-credit course, which “focuses on several countries—as well as an overview of the development of the region as a whole— and interprets the rich history that underlies the region’s cultures, contradictions, and uniqueness.”  (Although no prerequisites are required, please note that this course is currently closed for revision).  Happy reading!