Contribution

(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Manuel Puig’s contribution to the mystery and detective genre is limited to a single novel, The Buenos Aires Affair: Novela policial (1973; The Buenos Aires Affair: A Detective Novel, 1976). A member of the literary avant-garde as well as a pop novelist, Puig mixed high and low culture in his fiction and rejected the dismissal of popular literature, such as detective fiction, as subliterature.

Each of Puig’s novels can be identified with one or more genres of popular writing: serial melodrama, science fiction, screenplay, and detective fiction. His use of these various genres shifted between parody and emulation. The Buenos Aires Affair, for example, combines a playful attitude toward the conventions of the detective novel with an earnest desire to present a spectacle and to communicate directly with a mass audience. In adapting the detective novel to his use, Puig commented that it was the ideal form for his proposed theme of contained violence. Nevertheless, his use of the genre was decidedly self-critical and experimental in the manner of Jorge Luis Borges or Alain Robbe-Grillet.