Coming of Age
in the Afro-Latin American Novel


Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for the African Griot! Can you please begin by introducing your book. 

Coming of Age in the Afro-Latin American novel explores themes related to Blackness, Religion and Immigration.

How did you choose the eight major Afro-Latin American writers whose work your book explores?

After reading many books I saw that there was a coming-of-age theme in Afro-American novels and decided to explore it. From there I saw the sub-topics of Blackness, Religion and Immigration.

Can you please explain what Bildungsroman is?

The Bildungsroman is a type of novel that developed in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries and follows the life of a young boys growing up. Typically, it deals with education or travel.  In my book I identify women and families as protagonists of the modern bildungsroman.

Your work focuses on Spanish-speaking Caribbean and Brazil, how did you choose these two areas?

The first novel I identified was The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by the Dominican author Junot Diaz. After reading the book format of City of God by the Brazilian author Paulo Lins I saw a pattern of topics in Afro-Latin American Literature.

Why do you think the memory and continuing impact of slavery is still so important today? Why is it important to keep this history alive?

Slavery had a huge impact on the history of Latin America in terms of race and economics. As a result people of color today have a more difficult time obtaining education and work that will advance them in society. Only with reparations and a serious attempt to acknowledge the past will countries such as those in my book move forward.

Was there anything from your research that especially surprised you? 

I learned a lot about the Cuban Revolution.

Has the Afro-Latin American Novel always been of interest to you? How did the idea form to research what would become this book?

I have always been interested in African Diasporic religions in Brazil ever since I was an exchange student there at age 16.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I think my study demonstrates the impact that Africa has on Latin America. Also, the last chapter explores creative ways in which the Afro-Latin American bildungsroman is moving in new directions.

Coming of Age in the Afro-Latin American Novel


Hardcover, 9781648250286, May 2022

176 pp.

£70.00 / $85.00

Rochester Studies in African History and the Diaspora

University of Rochester Press



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BONNIE S. WASSERMAN is Assistant Professor of Africana Studies at the University of Arizona.