Contemporary Literature: Origin, Characteristics, Genres, Contemporary Literature in Mexico, Spain and Colombia

The contemporary literature it includes all the literary manifestations that have taken place since postmodernity. It is defined by a period but also by its very particular style. Most academics call contemporary literature all literary production after the Second World War, in the 1940s.

This period extends to the present. Contemporary literature is characterized by fragmentation, unreliable narrators, pastiche (imitation of styles and authors), changing narration, non-linear presentation and play and uncertainty in language.

Contemporary literature The Spanish Enrique Vila-Matas, representative of contemporary literature

In the same way, this literature is recognized by the historically postmodern content. This is related to the era of computers, robotics, mobile phones, globalization, among others. Now, some work or some writer could be considered contemporary if it shares stylistic, artistic or thematic qualities of the present.

Under this concept, even some writers of other centuries seem contemporary. Much of contemporary literature comes from Western authors; however, the term is not exclusive to European or American literatures.

In fact, globalization has allowed us to appreciate contemporary works written by many literary figures in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. In addition to novels and poetry, this literary style covers a wide variety of genres, such as traditional fiction and other forms adapted to the new reality (graphic novel or blog literature).


  • 1 Origin
    • 1.1 From 1940 to 1990
    • 1.2 From 1990 to the present
  • 2 characteristics
    • 2.1 Personal point of view
    • 2.2 Innovative narrative resources
    • 2.3 Magical realism
    • 2.4 The pressing issues
    • 2.5 Influence of World War II
    • 2.6 Fiction and non-fiction superimposed
  • 3 Genders
    • 3.1 Classic fiction genre
    • 3.2 Literature of ghost writers
    • 3.3 Graphic novels
    • 3.4 Literature for children
    • 3.5 Science fiction
    • 3.6 Blog literature
  • 4 Contemporary literature in Mexico
    • 4.1 characteristics
    • 4.2 Representative authors
  • 5 Contemporary literature in Spain
    • 5.1 characteristics
    • 5.2 Representative authors
  • 6 Contemporary literature in Colombia
    • 6.1 characteristics
    • 6.2 Representative authors
  • 7 References


From 1940 to 1990

In the course of this half century, mankind witnessed numerous changes. The end of World War II, the fall of communism in Europe and the end of the Cold War marked the beginning of a new society.

In addition, technological innovations emerged, such as cell phones and the Internet, color televisions and digital discs (DVD), among others. It was also the era of new music, like hip hop, and the acceptance of new cultures.

Within this whole wave of changes, literature was enriched with new genres. Many of these were a response to technological changes and the new social reality.

A feature of contemporary literature of this time was that many stories were based on reality and had a credible plot. During the first two decades, contemporary literature shared spaces with Modernism, retaining certain features such as, for example, focusing on the characters rather than the plot.

In its later development until the 1990s, the contemporary changed to the description of hard realities. Likewise, he focused his attention on the exposure of psychological problems such as exclusion and loneliness.

From 1990 to the present

The period from the 1990s to the year 2000 was characterized by globalization, growing concern about global warming and the war against Islamic terrorism.

In addition, it is a decade marked by wars, natural disasters and a growing population. The biggest economic crisis also occurred since the Great Depression, the 2008 recession, and many people lost their jobs.

Thus, contemporary literature received all these influences and was nourished by all these new contexts. In response to the communicational needs of society, new genres appeared.

He cyberpunk , he postcyberpunk , the new fantasy novels and the return to the metric and the rhyme in poetry are the indicative of the new time.


Personal point of view

The works of contemporary literature reflect the social and political views of their authors. These are shown through the characters, the connections with the events and the socio-economic messages of their works.

Innovative narrative resources

There is a break with previous narrative techniques. Contemporary literature uses avant-garde narrative resources, such as the modification of time and the presentation of the inner world of the characters.

Magical realism

The development of magical realism as a narrative technique represents a breakthrough in 20th century contemporary literature. This revolutionary technique is marked by a deep social and political character.

The pressing issues

Most of the themes of contemporary literature are related to the overwhelming problems of the world now, such as globalization, race and gender, inequality, climate and environment, wars and terrorism.

Likewise, in this extensive list you can find other topics, such as politics and economics, ethics and morals, mass culture and media, international crime and others.

Influence of World War II

The works of contemporary literature tend to be influenced by the prosperous lifestyle that followed World War II. This literary style has its roots in the devastation that war brought to the world.

Fiction and non-fiction superimposed

In contemporary literature the distinction between fiction and nonfiction can be blurred; This is known as crosses. Fiction writers base stories on real-life events and may even include authentic material.

On the other hand, nonfiction writers make historical figures come alive by incorporating dialogues and imaginary scenes.


Classic fiction genre

This genre is made up of stories, novels, plays, poems and films. Everything is imaginary and invented, but it is presented as a mirror that reflects life and human experience, in a concrete or abstract way.

Now, the first way to distinguish contemporary fiction is that it will have universal truths and emotions that every human being can experience. In some way, it gives expression to emotions.

Similarly, fiction in contemporary literature is realistic, which means that it has the following characteristics:

- Contains characters that behave in the way that most readers would. The characters must be credible.

- The story is set in the present.

- The environment is a real place, or at least it seems a real place.

- Events are events that could happen in real life.

- Dialogue is informal and conversational, and often includes regional dialects.

Literature of ghost writers

A surprising number of successful books are written by ghost writers. But there are also ghost novels.

By definition, these authors have no names and only their peers and the publishers who depend on them know them.

Graphic novels

The graphic novel is usually interpreted as a cartoon with a long narrative for a mature audience, published in hardcover or rustic and sold in bookstores, with serious literary themes and sophisticated works of art.

Literature for children

The last 20 years have seen a flowering of writing for children. Among the top representatives of this literature are C. S. Lewis ( Chronicles of Narnia ) and J. K. Rowling ( Harry Potter ).

Science fiction

Science fiction is a very popular branch in contemporary literature. This is intertwined with the technological progress of the world.

However, literary works of science fiction do not necessarily imply a solid scientific basis. A writer can create a science fiction literary work to express an alternative point of view or concept.

Blog literature

Blogs (online magazine of individual or joint authorship) have become a new means to create literary works. There are even cases in which these creations have become books.

Contemporary literature in Mexico


Until the mid-1940s several narrative styles coexisted in Mexico. The realistic narrative inherited from the 1900s persisted, and the indigenist novel and reflections about the national culture and being emerged.

From 1947, he began contemporary Mexican literature. This was influenced by American and European writers. The literary magazines that grouped the contemporary writers and published their works appeared. The groups took the name of the magazine that sponsored them and made this sponsorship a cultural trend.

The themes and techniques of narration became coincident with those of other contemporary writers from other latitudes.

Representative authors

Juan Rulfo (1917-1986)

He was a writer, screenwriter and photographer born in the state of Jalisco. Two of his best works are Pedro Paramo Y The Burning Plain . The first is a novel and the second is a collection of short stories.

Laura Esquivel (1950-)

It is recognized worldwide for its novel Like water for Chocolate , which was launched in 1989. This novel became the number one sales in Mexico for three years. It was also the subject of a successful homonymous film.

Octavio Paz (1914-1998)

He stood out as a great Mexican writer, poet and diplomat. Of its extensive production, Wild moon , Between the stone and the flower , The Labyrinth of Solitude , Sunstone Y Parole .

Most of his works have been translated into many languages ​​around the world. After his death in 1998, Octavio Paz became the first Mexican writer to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Contemporary literature in Spain


From 1975 to present dates, in contemporary Spanish literature there is a pre-eminence of the novel over other genres. The literary scene covers the historical novel and the adventure novel, among others.

Likewise, issues prohibited in the past are discussed, such as sexual freedom and other related issues. This literary production is regulated by the publishing markets and the literature prizes.

In the same order of ideas, literature now has a strong link with film production. In the adaptations, the filmmakers try to insert touches of the Spanish heritage and the peculiarities of this society.

Representative authors

Javier Marías (1951-)

He is considered by some critics as the best living contemporary Spanish writer. The following titles can be highlighted in his work: Heart so white Y Your face tomorrow .

Marías has received numerous awards, including the Rómulo Gallegos Prize in 1994, the IMPAC International Literary Award in Dublin in 1997 and the Austrian State Prize for European Literature in 2011.

Rosa Montero (1951-)

She has been acclaimed as both a journalist and a novelist. His novels The Delta function Y The crazy man in the house , have had overwhelming successes both literary and commercial.

He has won the Qué Leer awards for the best book published in Spain, and the Italian Grinzane Cavour prize for the best foreign book. He has also won the National Journalism Award several times.

Enrique Vila-Matas (1948-)

He has excelled in a variety of ways: film reviews, novels, essays and screenplays. He wrote his first novel, Woman in the mirror, when I was a teenager

Between the prizes that it has won, they emphasize the Italian prize Bottari Lattes Grinzane, the French prize Jean Carriere and the Spanish prize Leteo. The works of Vila-Matas have been translated into many languages.

Contemporary literature in Colombia


The contemporary Colombian literary movement is highly influenced by the political history of the country. In the novelistic production themes such as internal war, drug trafficking, corruption, among others, are reflected.

Also, the national identity has become valid. Evidence of this is the large number of works on the political, cultural and social history of the country.

Simultaneously, novel ways of telling the stories have emerged; One of these is the use of magical realism.

Representative authors

Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1927- 2014)

He was a novelist, storyteller, screenwriter and Colombian journalist. Known as El Gabo throughout Latin America, he is considered one of the most important authors of the 20th century and one of the best in the Spanish language.

Among his many recognitions of this undisputed representative of magical realism they emphasize the Neustadt International Prize of Literature of 1972 and the Nobel Prize of Literature of 1982.

Of his extensive literary work can be mentioned One hundred years of loneliness , The autumn of the patriarch , Love in the times of cholera Y A Chronicle of a Death Foretold .

Laura Restrepo (1950-)

She is a Colombian journalist and writer recognized for having developed a mixture of reality and fiction to create a style that she calls"report style".

Of his work stand out Island of passion , Cows eat spaghetti and his novel Delirium . This last novel was awarded with the Alfaguara prize in 2004.

Juan Gabriel Vásquez (1973-)

Juan Gabriel Vásquez is a writer known for his work The sound of the things when they fall . In this work, winner of the Alfaguara prize, it revolves around drug trafficking and the subsequent violence induced by Pablo Escobar.


  1. Carnevale, J. (s / f). What is Contemporary Literature? - Definition & Writing Style. Taken from
  2. Jay, E. (2018. March 11). What Is Contemporary Literature?. Taken from
  3. Velasco, S. (s / f). History and anthology of Hispanic American literature. Taken from
  4. (s / f). Characteristics of contemporary literature. Taken from
  5. Systime Lab. (S / f). What is contemporary literature?. Taken from
  6. Colón, C. (s / f). Mexican Literature-History and Political Climate of Mexico. Taken from .
  7. Smith, A. (2018, January 10). 10 of the Best Contemporary Spanish Writers. Taken from
  8. Ucrós, C. (2017, June 11). 7 Contemporary Colombian Authors who are not García Márquez. Taken from
  9. McCrum, R. (2012, November 19). The rise of literary genres. Taken from

Loading ..

Recent Posts

Loading ..