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).

Hispanic Writers Series “American Voces” Presents Giannina Braschi, Junot Díaz, and Cristina García

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Repeating Islands: News and commentary on Caribbean culture, literature, and the arts

posted by Ivette Romero
http://REPEATINGISLANDS.COM
August 18, 2013

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“American Voces” is a new Distinguished Hispanic Writers series at Johns Hopkins University; on the first year’s roster, it presents Hispanic American writers Junot Díaz (Dominican Republic/US), Giannina Braschi (Puerto Rico/US), and Cristina García (Cuba/US).

The John Hopkins University has launched “American Voces”, a new distinguished Hispanic writers series, with two shining stars of the Caribbean: Dominican novelist Junot Diaz (This is How You Lose Her) and the Puerto Rican poet Giannina Braschi (United States of Banana).

The Pulitzer Prize winning author Junot Díaz opened the new series in March 2013, and set the casual but politically charged tone for American Voces. Díaz spoke about how genres “that nobody takes seriously” such as horror, science fiction, and fantasy, may be better equipped to narrate the stories of colonialism’s cultural violence than realistic genres.

juntot1American Voces will now open its Fall 2013 series with Boricua Giannina Braschi on September 26. Author of the Spanglish classic Yo-Yo Boing!, Braschi’s cutting-edge work bridges drama, fiction, essays, poetry, philosophy, and performance art. She will discuss hot topics such as immigration. On the subject she has noted (in United States of Banana): “There are two movements in the history of colonization: invasion and immigration. Emigration is a reaction to the invasion of a nation. Because they have been invaded — they will emigrate.

This is about changing perspective from the point of view of the colonizer to the point of view of the colonized. The colonizer organizes the invasion but doesn’t prepare for the counter-invasion. The colonized moves from the land of the invaded to the land of his invader with the same adventurous spirit of the conqueror — not to avenge with arms but to reap the spoils of war—to infiltrate that new culture and to conquer it with his own culture.”

garcia-color2001Cristina Garcia, author of six novels including The Aguero Sisters and Monkey Hunting, will also appear in American Voces. On February 20, 2014, Garcia will present her new book King of Cuba, a darkly humorous novel about a decrepit dictator who refuses to accept that his grip on his health and his power is failing.

American Voces was founded and organized by Amanda Smith and Amy Sheeran to provide an engaging forum with Hispanic authors whose works re-imagine the cultural borders that have delimited the traditions of US and Hispanic literatures. This new series is sponsored by the Department of Germanic and Romance Languages at The John Hopkins.

For original, see http://www.caribbeannewsnow.com/topstory-Caribbean-literary-stars-launch-new-series-17291.html

 

reblogged from: Repeating Islands