Forms of Disappointment

Cuban and Angolan Narrative after the Cold War

By Lanie Millar

Subjects: Latin American Studies, Literary Criticism, Film Studies, Postcolonial Studies, Cultural Studies
Series: SUNY series in Latin American and Iberian Thought and Culture
Hardcover : 9781438475912, 262 pages, September 2019
Paperback : 9781438475905, 262 pages, July 2020

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations

Part I. Allegory and Aesthetics in the Post-Revolution

1. Silence and the People in Boaventura Cardoso’s Maio, Mês de Maria and Mãe, Materno Mar
2. Postwar Cinematic Politics and the Structures of Disappointment

Part II. The Mobility of Form

3. The War Abroad and the War at Home: Eliseo Alberto’s Caracol Beach

4. Revolution from the South in J. E. Agualusa’s O Ano em que Zumbi Tomou o Rio
Part III. Genre, Style, and Empire

5. Deferred Time and Belated Histories in Leonardo Padura’s El hombre que amaba a los perros

6. Post-Revolutionary Pastiche in Pepetela’s Jaime Bunda Novels

Works Cited

Analyzes parallel developments in post–Cold War literature and film from Cuba and Angola to trace a shared history of revolutionary enthusiasm, disappointment, and solidarity.


In Forms of Disappointment, Lanie Millar traces the legacies of anti-imperial solidarity in Cuban and Angolan novels and films after 1989. Cuba's intervention in Angola's post-independence civil war from 1976 to 1991 was its longest and most engaged internationalist project and left a profound mark on the culture of both nations. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Millar argues, Cuban and Angolan writers and filmmakers responded to this collective history and adapted to new postsocialist realities in analogous ways, developing what she characterizes as works of disappointment. Revamping and riffing on earlier texts and forms of revolutionary enthusiasm, works of disappointment lay bare the aesthetic and political fragmentation of the public sphere while continuing to register the promise of leftist political projects. Pushing past the binaries that tend to dominate histories of the Cold War and its aftermath, Millar gives priority to the perspectives of artists in the Global South, illuminating networks of anticolonial and racial solidarity and showing how their works not only reflect shared feelings of disappointment but also call for ethical gestures of empathy and reconciliation.

Lanie Millar is Assistant Professor of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Oregon.


"Forms of Disappointment offers an insightful and unique comparative analysis of a body of works produced in the post–Cold War period. By focusing on the Global South, instead of the customary north-south relationship favored by Cuba experts, the book contributes significantly to the fields of Cuban, African, and Latin American Studies; and more broadly to 'affect theory' and postcolonial studies. It is remarkably well written with elegant and clear prose. " — Marta Hernández Salván, author of Mínima Cuba: Heretical Poetics and Power in Post-Soviet Cuba