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Introduction

A novel is a relatively long work of narrative fiction, normally written in prose form, and which is typically published as a book.

The entire genre has been seen as having "a continuous and comprehensive history of about two thousand years", with its origins in classical Greece and Rome, in medieval and early modern romance, and in the tradition of the Italian renaissance novella. (Since the 18th century, the term "novella", or "novelle" in German, has been used in English and other European languages to describe a long short story or a short novel.)

Selected article

Manuel Estrada Cabrera inspired the novel's title character.
El Señor Presidente is a 1946 novel by Nobel Prize-winning Guatemalan writer Miguel Ángel Asturias. A landmark text in Latin American literature, El Señor Presidente explores the nature of political dictatorship and its effects on society. Asturias also makes early use of a literary technique that would come to be known as magic realism. One of the most notable works of the dictator novel genre, El Señor Presidente developed from an earlier Asturias short story, written to protest social injustice in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake in the author's home town. Although El Señor Presidente does not explicitly identify its setting as early twentieth-century Guatemala, the novel's title character was inspired by the 1898–1920 presidency of Manuel Estrada Cabrera. Asturias began writing the novel in the 1920s and finished it in 1933, but the strict censorship policies of Guatemalan dictatorial governments delayed its publication for a further thirteen years. The character the President rarely appears in the story but Asturias creates a number of other characters to show the terrible effects of living under a dictatorship. The style of El Señor Presidente influenced a generation of Latin American authors. In 1967, Asturias received the Nobel Prize in Literature for his entire body of work. This international acknowledgment was celebrated throughout Latin America, where it was seen as a recognition of the region's literature as a whole. Since then, El Señor Presidente has been adapted for the screen three times.

Selected novel quote

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  • It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured. I realized, somehow, through the screaming in my mind, that even in that shackled, bloody helplessness, I was still free: free to hate the men who were torturing me, or to forgive them. It doesn't sound like much, I know. But in the flinch and bite of the chain, when it's all you have got, that freedom is a universe of possibility. And the choice you make, between hating and forgiving, can become the story of your life.

Shantaram


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