My Broken Language: A Memoir

Quiara Alegría Hudes. One World, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-0-3995-9004-7
Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Hudes (Water by the Spoonful) delivers a love letter to her Puerto Rican heritage in her astonishing debut memoir. Chronicling her childhood in North Philadelphia, with a Jewish father and Boricua mother, and her early career as a playwright, she exposes chasms around identity and builds bridges between her selves as Boricua, mixed race, composer, writer, and observer. After her parents’ marriage dissolved, she bounced between two households and felt “stretched between English me and Spanish me.” Her mom, a faithful Santeria adherent, and the soulful dancing of her cousins left her sidelined and unable to communicate: “My words and my world did not align.” Then her “not-quite-stepfather” brought home an old piano, and she discovered music was a “new language.” Upon leaving for Yale to study composition, Hudes felt at odds with the privileged backgrounds of her peers, and it wasn’t until she enrolled in an MFA program at Brown that she found her voice and was able to incorporate her Boricua culture into her theater productions, a breakthrough that “reminded viscerally of my inheritance.” The fine-tuned storytelling is studded with sharply turned phrases (after long workdays, her mom is “soggy-limbed, a marionette whose strings had come loose”). This heartfelt, glorious exploration of identity and authorship will be a welcome addition to the literature of Latinx lives. Agent: Ian Kleinert, Objective Entertainment. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 02/03/2021
Release date: 04/06/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 1 pages - 978-0-399-59005-4
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