United States of Banana Paperback – 8 Nov 2011
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed
Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
About the Author
A native of Puerto Rico, Giannina Braschi is an influential and versatile writer of poetry, fiction, and essays. She was a tennis champion and fashion model during her youth in San Juan, before moving to Madrid to study with the Spanish poets Carlos Busoño and Claudio Rodriguez. She lived in Paris, Rome, and London before settling in New York, where she has taught at Rutgers University, City University, and Colgate University. She holds a Ph.D. in Golden Age Spanish literature and has written on Cervantes, Garcilaso, Lorca, Machado, Vallejo, and Bécquer. Her cutting-edge work in Spanish, Spanglish, and English has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, el diario, PEN American Center, Ford Foundation, Danforth Scholarship, InterAmericas, Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, and Reed Foundation. She currently serves as a literary judge for the PEN Book Awards.
Top Customer Reviews
However I didn't last long. After a couple of chapters I decided that this wasn't for me. I was hoping for a readable satirical novel, but couldn't relate to the style at all. It is written in a surreal style that will only appeal to a minority audience. I flicked ahead and saw that throughout the book further unreadable weirdness awaited.
Maybe this work does have a deep artistic and intellectual merit. However, if so, it is completely lost on me.
Beware - this is not a work that will appeal to mainstream novel reader.
The release of prisoner Segismundo, who has languished in prison for a hundred years has unexpectedly seismic implications for the very notion of liberty, and poet and novelist Giannina Braschi uses this fantasy to explore a post 9/11 world and the fracturing of America as it struggles to incorporate a huge influx of Latin American people and culture.
Or at least I think she does...
However, the ideas of this novel are to me subsumed in an infuriatingly eliptical style that seems obsessed with its own cleverness where each sentence is a post-modern parlour game. An example;
'Who would you betray?'
'I would betray none, except I would betray you for betraying me by asking me to betray'
These caprices can be fun and playful, but on every line? on every page?
Pretty soon my overiding reaction was 'KNOCK IT OFF!!'
This allegorical style and delight in unconventional prose can be a wonder when in the hands of a Pynchon or Rushdie, but here, just like a film who's shaky camerawork is meant to convey 'energy' and 'disorientation' but in fact just makes you sea-sick, this book becomes tiresome pretty quickly.
Or maybe I'm just not clever enough, and find myself getting annoyed by someone who seems to be just showing off how clever THEY are.
Whatever, the novelist's attempt to mesh the narrative with that of Hamlet is telling.Now there was an author with great ideas, with an extraordinary and inventive grasp of language.
I shall have to content myself with being clever enough to enjoy that!
The first half of the book has a series of accounts of September 11th, these are graphic and harrowing, and should come with a health warning. Especially for people like my husband who were there. I do wonder if the Author really was, or maybe its just different ways of dealing with tragedy between the Anglo-Saxon and Latin American.
The second half is a script, between the Author and Characters including the Statue of Liberty. I have to admit I didn't make it very far, as I had already lost the will to go further in the first half.
If you don't like realism, and do like this kind of heavy literature, you may like it. I didn't.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
United States of Banana is a hybrid work, mixing post-modern fiction, play format, sociopolitical commentary, and stretches of prose with an evocative carousel of language and philosophical ruminations. It is an English language and literature lover’s dream! Cliché is (or should be) the bain of every writer. In Braschi’s hands cliché becomes critique which repeats and accretes with such intensity that it acquires depth and sinister implications greatly in excess of its daily use. Running around like a chicken with its head cut off catapults the reader into stinging indictments of capitalism and its injurious effects on well … everybody.
“…home is in the head – (but the head is cut off) – and the nest is full of banking forms and Easter eggs with coins inside. Beheaded chickens, how do you breed chickens with their heads cut off? By teaching them to bankrupt creativity.”
Braschi plays clever havoc with the language around Puerto Rico’s status as a protectorate (de facto colony) of the United States. The statuses are referred to as Wishy, Wishy-Washy, and Washy, independence, protectorate, and statehood respectively. She engages with the question in many ways, but arguably the most unique approach comes from dialogue sequences in play format. My favorite conversation is between Cuba, The Statue of Liberty, Argentina, Puerto Rico, and the United States of Banana during a meeting at the United Nations. Fiction fans who are interested in Latin America and its complex political relationships with the United States must read this.
Then there are the places where Braschi eviscerates language and reconstitutes so it is recognizable but released from its moorings. For example, a skull becomes a “prop for glasses.” Or, “I always fulfill my deadlines because they are the lines of death, and I can never skip what was meant to die by deadline. And that is my goal. To die when I get to the deadline.” The magic is as much in what is written as what is held back or implied. United States of Banana is a galloping romp through semantic fields and an invigorating contribution to postmodernism that never loses its sense of irony or humor.
Author of The Feast of San Sebastian, PEN Member, and creator of The YouNiversity