Summer reads: brilliant takes on Nuyoricans, random murder and narco-literatura

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by Claudio Iván Remeseira, @HispanicNewYork 

12:48 pm on 08/25/2013

Puerto Rican poet, novelist, and essayist Giannina Braschi is a true force of nature. Born in 1953 into an affluent San Juan family, by the age of 14 she was the youngest female tennis champion in Puerto Rico’s history. Before turning 18 she had left home to study literature in Madrid, Rome, London, and Paris. After four years in Europe, she established herself in New York, where she later earned a PhD in Spanish literature from the State University of New York, Stony Brook. An expert in Cervantes, Garcilaso, Lorca, Machado, Vallejo, and Bécquer, she taught for many years at Rutgers, Colgate, and other prestigious universities.

A writer in three languages –Spanish, English, and Spanglish—her own literary work has been considered cutting-edge and revolutionary by the critics, as well as recognized with several awards by the National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, PEN American Center, Ford Foundation, and the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, among other organizations.

In 1988 she turned out “El Imperio de los Sueños,” widely regarded as a classic of Latin American Postmodernism, which at times, in the words of one critic, sounded uncannily like a female, tropical version of Samuel Beckett. Braschi’s production blends fiction, drama, essays, poetry, philosophy, and performance art. In 1998 she published “Yo-Yo Boing!” a novel written in Spanglish that dramatized the linguistic clash between “Anglos” and Latinos in New York City. Both “Yo-Yo Boing!” and “Empire of Dreams” have been masterfully translated into English by Tess O’Dwyer.

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Braschi’s latest book is also the first one that she wrote entirely in English, “United States of Banana.”  In a post-9/11 world, she explores the cultural experience of Latinos in the U.S. and the three political alternatives for Puerto Rico: nation, colony, and statehood—or in the author’s words, Wishy, Wishy-Washy, and Washy.

“Revolutionary in subject and form, UNITED STATES OF BANANA [sic] is a beautifully written declaration of personal independence,” declared The Evergreen Review. On September 26, Braschi is scheduled to appear on September 26 at the American Voces series organized by The John Hopkins University, Baltimore, where she will discuss her work with the audience.

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Javier Marías’s 12th novel, “The Infatuations,” translated into English by Margaret Jull Costa, is a mesmerizing, disturbing novel. At the center of the story, there is an apparently random murder.  All we know about this murder we know from the perspective of a woman of a rather uncontrolled imagination. This woman, Maria, is also the one who tells the story.

This is the first time that the award-winning Marías, born in Madrid in 1951 and considered one of the greatest Spanish-language novelists alive, employs a female narrator. As the storyline progresses, the murder mystery turns into a metaphysical inquiry into love and death, guilt and obsession, chance and coincidence—in sum, on the elusive nature of truth and of our ability to find it.

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On the surface, “Down the Rabbit Hole,” Juan Pablo Villalobos’s miniature novel, is just another example of “narco-literatura,” the genre inspired by the Mexican drug wars. More deeply, it is a brilliant experiment on perspective and the account of a delirious journey to grant a child’s wish.

Short-listed for the Guardian First Book Award, “Down the Rabbit Hole” is the promising debut of a post-boom generation writer (Villalobos was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1973).

ClaudioRemeseiraClaudio Iván Remeseira is a New York-based award-winning journalist, writer, and critic. Translator of the Spanish-language on-line section of The Nation and editor of Hispanic New York, an online portal and blog on current events and culture. Editor of Hispanic New York: A Sourcebook (Columbia University Press, 2010), an anthology of essays on the city’s Latino, Latin American & Iberian cultural heritage, and winner of the Latino International Book Award in the category of Best Reference Book in English (2011).

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Caras Special Edition: Most Influential Puerto Ricans of 2012

  1. Reblogged from Latin Culture Today:  Here are the highlights of “CARAS 2012:  Los grandes protagonistas de Puerto Rico“.   Patricia de la Torre, Editorial Director.  Jaime RIvera, Photography Director .  

    Topping the List of the Most Influential and Exciting Puerto Ricans Today are…

    Turning heads with their own eclectic spin on reggaetonCALLE 13 is the hottest band to emerge from Puerto Rico in decades, with 19 Latin Grammy Awards and 2 Grammy Awards. As hot as their sound is their political fire; these musicians are avid supporters of the Puerto Rican independence movement, both a source of controversy and a musical inspiration.

     GIANNINA BRASCHI, one of the most imaginative and funny writers to emerge from Latin America in the past 25 years, is the radical author of the new book UNITED STATES OF BANANA and the best-selling Spanglish novel YO-YO BOING!  The Associated Press calls Braschi’s writing “fearless” and her imagination “limitless”.  Whether her award-winning books are written in Spanish, Spanglish or English, Braschi is a festival favorite at headlining events such as the National Book Festival, The Modern Language Association Convention, and the PEN World Voices Festival.

    JENNIFER LOPEZ, the global performing arts sensation, is one of the most multi-talented artists and entrepeneurs today.  J Lo is an actress, dancer, film producer, philanthropist, and singer. In 2012, she was ranked at number one on business magazine Forbes‘s Celebrity 100 list, which named her the most powerful celebrity, with earnings of $52 million that year.

    ALEJANDRO GARCIA PADILLA is the new GOVERNOR OF PUERTO RICO as of January 2013.  Prior, he was a member of the 24th Senate of Puerto Rico and President of the Popular Democratic Party of Puerto Rico.

    CARLOS BELTRAN plays outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals. Beltrán is known for being one of the best all-time statistical hitters in Major League Baseball postseason games, which has earned him nicknames such as “Señor Octubre” and “the real Mr.October” .

     

     JOSEPH ACABA, PUERTO RICAN ASTRONAUT

      
    MARC ANTHONY is a two-time Grammy and three-time Latin Grammy–award winning singer and actor who has sold more than 12 million salsa and ballad albums worldwide.

TONY RAMOS, OLYMPIC GYMNAST FROM PUERTO RICO, placed in the finals at the London Olympics in 2012. May he bring home the gold from the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero. 

RICKY MARTIN currently stars as Che in the Broadway revival of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Evita.  In addition to being a POP SINGER AND BROADWAY ACTOR, he is a philanthropist whose foundation is dedicated to eliminating human trafficking.

MONICA PUIG, TENNIS PLAYER, won the ITF tournament in Joué-lès-Tours in 2012, which included a first round win against Alexandra Panova.  Her star is on the rise.

BENICIO DEL TORO, ACTOR and FILM PRODUCER, has won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and a BAFTA Award.

RICHARD CARRION is not only the CEO and Chairman of BANCO POPULAR, but he also runs the Finance Committee for the International Olympics.  He is one of Puerto Rico’s most successful businessmen in addition to being a philanthropist dedicated to providing underprivileged children with education and sports opportunities.

*For more complete bios see CARAS 2012 SPECIAL EDITION: Los grandes protagonistas de Puerto Rico.
Links:

http://www.jenniferlopez.com

http://idolator.com/7369242/jennifer-lopez-grammy-dress-morning-mix

http://www.puertoricanstudies.org
http://www.prtt.org/ 
http://translucence.wordpress.com/07/19/2012

http://artid.com/members/hispanic_arts/blog/post/5265-the-association-for-puerto-rican-hispanic-http://culture-inc-annual-concert-at-museum-of-the-city-of-new-york
http://www.hispanic-culture-online.com/Hispanic-culture-blog.html
http://www.thehispanicblog.com
http://boriquablog.wordpress.com
http://profacero.wordpress.com/2012/07/27/giannina-braschi/http://repeatingislands.com/2011/12/12/new-book-giannina-braschis-united-states-of-banana/

http:/www.latinopoetryreview.blogspot.com/

http://www.frasespedia.com/frases-de-libertad-de-giannina-braschi/
http://nbclatino.com/2013/01/06/13-most-anticipated-hispanic-films-of-2013/

http://spanishcultures.blogspot.com
http://nyswiblog.blogspot.com/2012/10/giannina-braschi-this-friday-at.htmlhttp://www.bokmassan.se/nyheter/giannina-braschi-till-forum-for-poesi/

http://www.lrslatino.blogspot.com/
www.latinowriterstoday.blogspot.com/

http://www.adrianadominguez.blogspot.com/