Writing in an elevated version of the ""code-switching"" half-Spanish, half English that is the daily language of many U.S.-born Latinos, Braschi's (Empire of Dreams) novel is at once a literary liberation and a frustrating challenge. Dispensing with a traditional story line, the work takes the form of an exuberant discussion involving an indeterminate number of speakers. Confusingly, these interlocutors are indicated only by a dash, not by name, while they yo-yo between languages and from subject to subject: writers, films, sex, childhood, family and, ultimately, Puerto Rican artistic expression in New York City. Allusions come helter-skelter, as Fellini, Pee-Wee Herman, Nabokov and even Columbia University Latin Americanist Jean Franco are invoked, celebrated and derided. The character who declares ""Pero no me vas a tumbar al suelo [you're not going to knock me to the ground] after you've given me wings"" expresses the conversation's conflicted mood and overarching defiant pride. Braschi's melange of prose and poetry, English and Spanish, is admirable for its energy, its experimental format and its insistence on Spanglish as a literary language, but those very qualities will render it of interest only to the most literary-minded of bilingualists. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997 Release date: 01/01/1998 Genre: Fiction
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.