The sex industry in fiction: Rolo Diez’ Poussière du désert and women’s exploitation in Mexico (pp. 115-127; DOI: 10.23692/iMex.12.8)

Dr. Cécile Brochard

(PhD 2012, Department of Modern Literature, University of Nantes, France) is ‘professeur agrégée’ in Modern Literature. She is lecturer in Comparative Literature at the University of Nantes and associated member of the research teams L’Amo (University of Nantes) and GRELPP (University of Paris Nanterre La Défense). She has published within different areas of Comparative Studies, particularly in her main area of research, the dictator novel, including two authored books, Écrire le pouvoir: les romans du dictateur à la première personne (Éditions Champion 2015) and Le Roman de la dictature contemporain – Afrique-Amérique (Éditions Champion soon to be published). She has also co-authored La Folie: création ou destruction? (PUR 2011) and L’Extase lucide. Étude de Mémoires d’Hadrien (PURH 2014). Her current research focuses on transatlantic literary relations between African and Hispano-American contemporary literature, as well as on Native American and Australian Aboriginal contemporary literature.

The frontier between Mexico and the United States is known for some of the most violent crimes in contemporary Mexican society, and these include women’s exploitation. Argentine writer Rolo Diez chooses to set his crime novels in this context of violence and criminality: La vida que me doy (2000) and Matamujeres (2001) explore the exploitation of women through brutality, prostitution, disappearances and murders. Certainly willing to depict the brutality of this lawless chaos, crime novels often comply with sensationalist codes such as eroticization of female bodies and complaisance in representing the extreme violence of cartels and prostitution. Thus, they cannot avoid the ethical questioning they are willing to submit contemporary Mexican society to. This essay explores to what extent literature is able to examine brutal exploitation without being endangered by exhibitionism. After examining the possibility for literature to represent obscenity without perverting both the author and the reader, this article will analyse Rolo Diez’ representation of sexual business and violence towards women in Mexico, and question whether or not his crime novels avoid the risk of voyeurism.

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