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identity, systems of belief, authority, or writing (pick one).

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Write a 5 page essay comparing two of the books we’ve discussed in class. You can compare 2 novels, or 1 novel and 2-3 stories from one of the collections we read (we read, Beauty Salon by Mario Bulletin, The taker and other stories by Rubem Fonseca, How I became a nun by Cesar Aira, Distant Star by Robert Bollano and War by candlelight by Daniel Alarcon).

Make sure to focus on particular sections and/or character(s) in order to make larger claims about the texts discussed. This is an exercise in close reading, where your interpretation (and resulting thesis) should be supported by the text itself. It must include at least 3 secondary sources (apart from the primary texts themselves). These need to be included in the Works Cited page. The essay can be on either of the following 4 topics (pick one).

1. IDENTITY– In several of these texts, characters take on ‘masks’ of different kinds. How do these protagonists perform certain identities? What do such performances tell us about these characters? What do they seek to achieve with their performances? Are they acts of subversion or of convention?

2. SYSTEMS OF BELIEF– How are the systems of belief presented in these texts (ideologies, religion, etc)? How do the characters relate to those systems of belief? Do the stories these characters and narrators tell (and the ways they tell them) offer bat commentary on those systems?

3. AUTHORITY– What relationships do these characters have with figures of authority (for instance, a son’s relationship to his father)? How is authority enforced in these stories? What does tat tell about the communities in which these characters exist?

4. WRITING– How do these narrators undermine or strengthen the stories they tell? What relationship do they establish with the reader? Do they offer their own ‘theories’ of storytelling? Are these ‘theories’ consistent with the way in which they practice storytelling?

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