Cuban-American Women's Anglophone Novels of the 1990s Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Ignizio, Graham
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Romance Studies
  • My dissertation examines twelve Anglophone novels written by Cuban-American women published in the 1990s, a period during which Isabel Alvarez-Borland and others have observed a Cuban-American Literary Boom. The twelve novels that constitute my corpus belong to nine authors: Teresa Bevin, Havana Split (1998); Cristina García, Dreaming in Cuban (1992) and The Agüero Sisters (1997); Margarita Engle, Singing to Cuba (1993) and Skywriting (1995); Ivonne Lamazares, The Sugar Island (2000); Tina Matlock, Guava and Cheese (2000); Himilce Novas, Mangos, Bananas, and Coconuts: A Cuban Love Story (1996); Achy Obejas, Memory Mambo (1996); Beatriz Rivera, Midnight Sandwiches at the Mariposa Express (1997) and Playing with Light (2000); and Ana Veciana-Suárez, The Chin Kiss King (1997). A combination of known and lesser-known writers, this group includes all the novels written during the decade I selected with the exception of the entertaining mass-market detective thrillers by Cristina García-Aguilera. Chapter 1 defines the contours of this boom by discussing first the unifying motifs and preoccupations that speak to the hyphenated identity that represents contemporary Cuban-American narrative written in English by women and then by establishing three common themes that explore questions of self-identity and nationality shared by the Cuban-American characters in the novels in my corpus: the mother-daughter relationship, the voyage to Cuba, and the obsession with family history. Each theme is developed in the three chapters that follow (Chapters 2-4) and four novels are discussed in each. The analyses of these three themes brings to the fore aspects of identity confusion between various generations as depicted by the mothers and daughters portrayed in these texts, the centrality of the voyage back to the island and its effect on identity formation, and the intersections between individual and family memory, which often are enlightened by the use of concepts such as postmemory and collective memory. The 1990s is a period of particular importance to Cubans on and off the island and this dissertation is but one example of the central -and I believe representative--preoccupations and achievements of some of the Cuban-Americans writing in this significant period at the end of the 20th century.
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  • Perelmuter, Rosa
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