United States of Banana

Reviewed by Cristina Garrigos

If you are looking for the typical Latina work, this is not it. In United States of Banana, you will not find family sagas; there is no magical realism, nor fictionalized accounts of the history of a colonized country, with a special emphasis on the oppression of women. Not here. In this wonderfully complex text, Giannina Braschi pays a dear homage to her homeland, Puerto Rico, but the work is so much enmeshed in what we can call universal literature, or just literature, that whether it is to be tagged under Latino fiction or not is beyond the point.   In Braschi’s third book, we find all of the author’s literary, spiritual and physical universe combined and interacting in a Pirandellian way. Characters from her previous works, such as Mariquita Samper, Giannina, and even the Statue of Liberty, enter the stage and take hold of language to articulate a coherent, although fragmentary, discourse, through an aesthetic that defies the boundaries of the poetic, the dramatic, and the philosophical.

This work is Giannina Braschi herself, but it is also New York and Puerto Rico; the relationship of the Boricuas with the United States and Spain; the Latino heritage and the Anglo. Through the vision of Hamlet, Segismundo, and Zarathustra, Giannina will dissect and explore not only the political repercussions of the Free Associatedness of Puerto Rico, but also what it means to be physical, linguistic and spiritually dependent of another, and the meaning of freedom in this context. It is here that the events of September 11 serve as the frame in which a reconsideration of the definition of the human takes place.  Experimental, revolutionary and profoundly philosophical, United States of Banana is to be read as The Waste Land of the 21st Century.

Evergreen Review:  http://www.evergreenreview.com/128/review_us_of_banana.shtml

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