Isolation On and Off the Island: The Politics of Displacement in Contemporary Spanish Caribbean Fiction
Selcke, Gretchen Susan
In the Spanish Caribbean and its diaspora, the cultural consequences of “not belonging” predominate works by Cuban authors Zoé Valdés and Oscar Hijuelos, Dominican authors Junot Díaz and Loida Maritza Pérez, and Puerto Rican authors Rosario Ferré and Luis Rafael Sánchez. In Valdés’s La nada cotidiana (1995) and Hijuelos’s Dark Dude (2008) and Beautiful María of My Soul: Or the True Story of María Cifuentes y García, the Lady Behind a Famous Song (2010), the contentious relationship between the United States and Cuba exposes familial divides that were present even before the Cuban Revolution. Dominican American works Drown (1996) and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao: A Novel (2007) by Díaz and Geographies of Home (1999) by Pérez address the lasting, violent legacy of the trujillato. In Sánchez’s La guaracha del Macho Camacho (1976) and Ferré’s The House on the Lagoon (1995), Puerto Rico’s linguistic and political marginality combine to reveal the island’s political status as a root cause of its stagnation. Each text demonstrates the repercussions of exile from long-term dictatorial rule and U.S. neo-colonial policies. In each case, a definitive national trauma exposes and is exposed by family trauma, demonstrating how the political becomes personal and vice versa. These works blend different geographic, linguistic, racial, and cultural spaces into the same text that provides and expanded definition of Latino literature that includes works published in English and Spanish, both in the United States and elsewhere.
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