Books Acquired Recently: Giannina Braschi

Braschi, Giannina. Empire of Dreams. Trans. Tess O’Dwyer. Las Vegas: AmazonCrossing, 2011.

—. United States of Banana. Las Vegas: AmazonCrossing, 2011.

—. Yo-Yo Boing! 1998. Trans. Tess O’Dwyer. Las Vegas: AmazonCrossing, 2011.

I hadn’t heard of Giannina Braschi until about a month ago when I received an email from amazon.com in my school account (not the account I normally use for my amazon transactions–in other words, they got my contact info from some professional organization, probably the Modern Language Association) advertising these three books and offering me free exam copies. Of course I immediately accepted. They arrived yesterday.

Braschi is apparently a Puerto Rican writer who is now trying to cross over into the English-speaking market. It is interesting that she chose to write her most recent book, United States of Banana, in English. It will be fascinating to see whether there is a noticeable difference in style between this book and the two which have been translated. All three books sound like fun.

It is also noteworthy that amazon.com has begun producing books of their own like bookstores with physical locations such as Barnes & Noble do (the late Borders did so as well). Unlike Barnes & Noble, which generally just reprints classics that are out of copyright, amazon is publishing contemporary authors, which signifies that they are not satisfied with merely being a distributor, but that they want to control the entire publishing process. This is yet another ominous sign for independent bookstores, though I am happy that amazon is at least offering their editions in print rather than just as Kindle downloads.

Published by danielshankcruz

I grew up in New York City and lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Goshen, Indiana; DeKalb, Illinois; and Salt Lake City, Utah before coming to Utica, New York. My mother’s family is Swiss-German Mennonite (i.e., it’s an ethnicity, not necessarily a theological persuasion) and my father’s family is Puerto Rican. I have a Ph.D. in English and currently teach at Utica College. I have also taught at Northern Illinois University and Westminster College in Salt Lake City. My teaching and scholarship are motivated by a passion for social justice, which is why my research focuses on the literature of oppressed groups, especially LGBT persons and people of color. While I primarily read and write about fiction, I am also a devoted reader of poetry because, as William Carlos Williams writes, “It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet [people] die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there.” Thinkers who influence me include Marina Abramovic, Kathy Acker, Di Brandt, Ana Castillo, Samuel R. Delany, Percival Everett, Essex Hemphill, Jane Jacobs, Walt Whitman, and the New York School of poets. I am also fond of queer Mennonite writers such as Stephen Beachy, Jan Guenther Braun, Lynnette Dueck/D’anna, and Casey Plett. In my free time I’m either reading, writing the occasional poem, playing board games (especially Scrabble, backgammon, and chess), watching sports (Let’s Go, Mets!), or cooking (curries, stews, roasts…).

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