New Book: “Dispatches from Puerto Nowhere…”

Robert Lopez’s Dispatches from Puerto Nowhere: An American Story of Assimilation and Erasure was published by Two Dollar Radio in March 2023.

In “12 Must-Read Books of March 2023,” Michael Welch (Chicago Review of Books) says, “Robert Lopez’s family story about cultural erasure has stuck with me for months after my first read. Dispatches From Puerto Nowhere is an honest and deep emotional exploration of the author’s family history, dating back to his grandfather Sixto’s immigration to the United States in the 1920s. Lopez honors the past and imagines his grandfather’s history through what he can remember in an effort to re-claim a heritage that has been threatened by assimilation.

Description: “That I was born Puerto Rican was happenstance, but that I have no connection to what it means is no accident. My grandparents made conscious decisions and so did my father as part of the first generation born here in the States. And none of it bothered me until recently, which is probably why I can’t quite put my finger on any of this. I’m still grappling with what I’ve lost and how I can miss something I’ve never had.”

Robert Lopez’s grandfather Sixto was born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, in 1904, immigrating to the United States in the 1920s, where he lived in a racially proportioned apartment complex in East New York, Brooklyn, until his death in 1987. The family’s efforts to assimilate within their new homeland led to the near complete erasure of their heritage, culture, and language within two generations.

Little is known of Sixto—he may have been a longshoreman, a painter, or a boxer, but was most likely a longshoreman—or why he originally decided to leave Puerto Rico, other than that he was a meticulously slow eater who played the standup keyboard and guitar, and enjoyed watching baseball. Through family recollection, the constant banter volleyed across nets within Brooklyn’s diverse tennis community, as well as an imagined fabulist history drawn from Sixto’s remembered traits, in Dispatches From Puerto Nowhere: An American Story of Assimilation and Erasure, Robert Lopez paints a compassionate portrait of family that attempts to bridge the past to the present, and re-claim a heritage threatened by assimilation and erasure.

Robert Lopez is the author of three novels, Part of the World, Kamby Bolongo Mean River and All Back Full, and two collections of stories, Asunder and Good People. He has taught at The New School, Pratt Institute, Columbia University, and the Solstice Low-Res MFA Program at Pine Manor College. Find him at

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