United States of Banana: A Graphic Revolution
Giannina Braschi and Joakim Lindengren. Mad Creek, $19.95 trade paper (136p) ISBN 978-0-8142-5786-9
A review from Publishers Weekly.
Braschi (Empire of Dreams) adapts her poetry collection, with Swedish artist Lindengren, into an incisive if sometimes mystifying critique of colonialism in graphic form. Braschi, Zarathustra, and Hamlet sustain a conversation with the Statue of Liberty that morphs into the story of Segismundo, a Puerto Rican man obsessed with unpacking Puerto Rico’s colonial history. This core conceit is wrapped in layers of strangeness, meandering subplots, and bizarre elements. Besides the four main characters, the tale is packed with appearances by a variety of historical figures and art that echoes myriad influences. Donald Trump and Don Quixote occupy neighboring panels, poet Rubén Darío pops up, and artists such as Edvard Munch, Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, René Magritte, and M.C. Escher all make cameos. The amalgamation is stimulating to the point of overwhelming, presented as an exercise in “thinking through big ideas aloud,” but absent the explainer introduction by a pair of academics, the density of imagery and allusion in this heady mix begs for more organizing structure. Metatextuality, pastiche, and intertextuality coexist with David Bowie, pop culture, and Abraham Lincoln, but nothing gets enough space to shine.