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United States of Banana by Giannina Braschi
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United States of Banana

by Giannina Braschi

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201515,329 (2.83)1

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This book has been inaccurately publicized and blurbed as "a novel" or "fiction". It's not really fiction and it certainly is not a novel. It contains two parts; the first, and shorter, is a succession of prose poems concerning life in New York in the days after 9/11, and the second is a pseudo-play wherein the author intellectually dialogues with various characters (mostly real-life authors and literary characters), the cast headed by Hamlet, the Statue of Liberty (and her Jewish cat) and Nietzsche's Zarathustra. This is a great premise, but it isn't carried out very well (as opposed to the 9/11 material, which is a crummy premise carried out beautifully). The author is determined to bring everything back to two topics: Puerto Rico and America-bashing. The first is parochial and becomes very tiresome, and as for the second, all but the thickest of cultural observers have long since sussed that American popular culture and foreign policy have their shortcomings and foibles. We get it, okay? The book often becomes memorable, though, in the strength of the author's unchaining of language, comparable to the finest moments of the great surrealists of a century ago such as Marinetti and Breton, and her often memorable turns of phrase; it's going to be difficult not to plagiarize some of her best imagery. ( )
  Big_Bang_Gorilla | Mar 23, 2012 |
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United States of Banana takes place at the Statue of Liberty in post-9/11 New York City, where Hamlet, Zarathustra, and Giannina are on a quest to free the Puerto Rican prisoner Segismundo. Segismundo has been imprisoned for more than one hundred years, hidden away by his father, the king of the United States of Banana, for the crime of having been born. But when the king remarries, he frees his son, and for the sake of reconciliation, makes Puerto Rico the fifty-first state and grants American passports to all Latin American citizens. This staggering show of benevolence rocks the global community, causing an unexpected power shift with far reaching implications.… (more)

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