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This essay argues that Sergio Chejfec’s 2012 novel La experiencia dramática maps out a form for understanding the global function of debt by narrating a series of mundane everyday experiences (e.g. trivial conversations, inconsequential purchases, personal anecdotes, the use of Google Maps to navigate a city). Chejfec makes these everyday experiences available as representations of the global credit system not by explicitly linking them to debt obligations but rather through his development of a specifically literary form of writing, one that insists on a separation between aesthetic representation and lived experience. This project of separation is made possible through a process of narrativization that parallels the temporality evoked by antitheatrical aesthetic forms in landscape art, which are analyzed by Michael Fried in his seminal book Absorption and Theatricality: Painting and Beholder in the Age of Diderot (1980). By mobilizing these antitheatrical visual forms and their temporalities for literature, Chejfec can move away from the crises, causalities and temporalities of narrative forms such as allegory. In so doing, La experiencia dramática creates a representation of the invisible influences of debt and the operation of the global credit system but also establishes for contemporary Latin American literature a “critical potentiality” that may be unavailable to other forms of narrative.

Published in 13 (2014):


la experiencia dramática, sergio chejfec, debt, loans, landscape, antitheatricality, ontology of art


Latin American Literature