New Book: Giannina Braschi’s “United States of Banana”

In “La obra de Giannina Braschi” (En Rojo/Claridad) Francisco José Ramos explains that it is important to distinguish between literature and a work of literary art. He says, “The work of literary art is the poetic and musical composition of words through which writing manages to give birth to the unique and unrepeatable voice [. . .], a voice that becomes as many voices as may be necessary to say what has must be said.” Ramos firmly places Braschi’s latest novel in the sphere of literary art, underlining that the difficult-to-categorize United States of Banana (2011) falls in the realm of the “peculiar, strange, and unusual.”

He writes, “See here the vigor and the nourishment for a full literary experience. It is something really peculiar, strange, and unusual. [. . .] Peculiar but intimate; surprising but endearing; unusual, but with an extraordinary loyalty for the most discerning cultural legacy of human intelligence. Here, everything else in resides in its more ironic sense: love for her homeland, but also the devotion to the rootlessness that allows one to belong to any other land or even an extraterrestrial abode; contempt for all forms of oppression, but also the unconditional love for life; the pleasure of singing, like Dulcinea, to the abundance of living. The desire to possess it all; to become acquainted with everything; to embrace everything, but also to be giving; to encompass the unique dance of generosity and dispossession.”

Description: Giannina Braschi explores the cultural and political journey of nearly 50 million Hispanic Americans living in the United States in this explosive new work of fiction, her first written in originally in English. 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. In a world struggling to realign itself in favor of liberty, United States of Banana is a force to be reckoned with in literature, art, and politics.

Giannina Braschi (1953) was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She holds a PhD in Hispanic literature from the State University of New York-Stony Brook. She has taught at has taught at Rutgers University, City University of New York, and Colgate University, where she served as distinguished chair of Creative Writing (1997). Braschi is well known for works such as Asalto al tiempo, La comedia profana, Empire of Dreams, and the Spanglish novel Yo-Yo Boing!

For purchasing information (and short description above), see

For full review by Francisco José Ramos (in Spanish), see

For Giannina Braschi’s full bio, see

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