In sketching the lives and works of only eight Latin American authors--Jorge Luis Borges, Jorge Amado, Julio Cortzar, Mario Vargas Llosa, Gabriel GarcÂ¡a Mrquez, Carlos Fuentes, Rosario Castellanos, Isabel Allende--in this entry in the Global Profiles series, Shirey creates a cross-section rather than a comprehensive survey of Latin American literature. The result affords readers a glimpse of how the area's turbulent history has affected its literature, plus a sample of magical realism's distinctive character. Shirey is unafraid of sweeping statements, e.g., ""The most important Latin American writer of the 20th Century is Jorge Luis Borges."" In fact, rather than simply recite the facts, she takes an analytical tack, emphasizing significant early events and people who influenced each author's style, then summarizing their major works in structural and thematic terms. Except for Castellanos and Cortzar, the writers' voices are not heard enough to give readers much sense of their personalities or styles, nor does Shirey footnote her information; each biography ends, however, with a chronology, a list of works available in English, and a handful of sources. A concise, serviceable, carefully organized work aimed at those who are studying this unique, entertaining literary school.