Subterranean Mexican blues: Guillermo Fadanelli and the genesis of trash literature

Alice Rose Whitmore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


This article examines the notion of literatura basura (trash literature) via the work of Mexican author Guillermo Fadanelli: literary renegade and creator of the trash literature movement. Fadanelli’s trash literature project, which he developed alongside the Moho project in the late 1980s, involved a hypothetical relinquishment of the ideas of literary longevity, academicization, and good literary manners. Fadanelli has described his invention of the term as “la abierta carcajada del condenado a muerte.” This irreverence, however, belies a more
sobering message: trash is the consummate affliction of our times; it clogs our landfills and our airwaves, failing to nourish our minds or our bodies; like death, it is forced underground, confined to the peripheries of our ever-expanding societies. By virtue of its ubiquity, however, it tells us a great deal about the sensibilities of postmodern culture. This article examines the (anti)ideological origins of Fadanelli’s trash literature project and situates it within the dynamic counterculture of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, mapping
the ways in which it intersects with (and departs from) other literary, cinematic and artistic movements of its time. From this analysis, Mexico City—a site of unparalleled sprawl and saturation—emerges as an apt symbol of the trash paradox: the hopelessness of the urban wasteland, I suggest, contains both the grim confidence of the death drive and the possibility, however unexpected, of complete renewal.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-121
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Iberian and Latin American Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 12 Sept 2017


  • Guillermo Fadanelli
  • Trash Literature;
  • Realismo sucio
  • Literatura basura
  • Dirty realism

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