Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


Mester bannerUCLA

The Writer’s Soundtrack in Cien botellas en una pared


The present article analyzes how a metafictional discourse on what it means to be a contemporary (Cuban) writer interacts with frequent references to popular music in the novel Cien botellas en una pared (2002; 2010) by Ena Lucía Portela. The novel’s explicit discussion of publishing as a Cuban author enters into dialogue with the idea of “world fiction” that Pascale Casanova expresses in The World Republic of Letters (2004).  The essay argues that the inclusion of popular music in the body of the novel and the footnotes to the 2010 edition allow Cien botellas to avoid becoming the bland “world fiction” that Casanova critiques.  While the novel’s abundant references to popular Cuban music establish a specifically Cuban context, the educational footnotes make the novel accessible to a broad readership that comes from different places and possesses varying kinds of cultural education.  Furthermore, by creating a bridge between the fictional world and the real world, references to diverse genres of music, ranging from the guaracha to the bolero, invite the reader to examine the roles that popular music plays in the novel and in Cuban society.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View