Generational Traumas in Contemporary Cuban- American Literature

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Through a critical examination of a number of artistic, musical, and literary productions created by the children of Cuban exiles, this book defines frameworks with which to discuss second-generation Cuban-American texts. Via the cultural critiques of exile produced by theorists such as Bhabha, Appadurai, Seyhan, and Rushdie, the work analyzes the social and political implications of works produced by Cristina García, Roberto G. Fernández, Virgil Suárez, Carmelita Tropicana, Albita Rodríguez, and several other artists all engaged in defining a cultural identity in exile. The overall study reveals a generational solidarity of much greater complexity than the common assumptions of assimilation and acculturation previously assigned to this generation’s cultural output. The art produced by this particular generation, born either wholly outside of Cuban territory or children at the time of their departures, considers the necessity of interrogating parental as well as grandparental narratives as they settle on the task of creating independent identity narratives. Primarily by accessing memories, childhood stories, tales of pre-Revolutionary Cuba, traumatic narratives of departure, and accounts of social (mal)adjustments, these texts offer a number of viable ways in which to produce and ultimately locate a multi-faceted cultural identity despite the potentially alienating condition known as exile.


“For the last twenty years, Cuban American literature has occupied an ambiguous place in the corpus of imaginative writing by U.S. Latinos. Although some of the most prominent Latino writers have Cuban origins, by and large Cuban Americans write for and about their own ... Dr. Montes takes the discussion of Cuban American literature beyond the binaries – exile/return; home/host; Cuban/American; Spanish/English – that have thus far shaped thinking, including my own, about Cuban American literature ... He combines an insider’s knowledge with the dispassion of the observer, thus occupying an intermediate position that permits him to dissect, delicately but incisively, some of the tastiest Cubannelids in our canon ...” – (from the Preface) Professor Gustavo Pérez Firmat, Columbia University

“In this study, Dr. Montes examines the cultural expressions of a range of second-generation Cuban-American authors and performance artists who interrupt the transmission of the first generation’s communiqués of cultural identity. Seamlessly adapting contemporary postmodern and postcolonial theory, and drawing from the fields of cultural studies and trauma analysis, Dr. Montes artfully explores the dual themes of rupture and displacement that have transversed generations of Cubans in the Diaspora ...”– Professor Andrea O’Reilly Herrera, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

“The publication of this book is a solid contribution to Cuban studies, especially the study of Cuban-American literature. Dr. Montes achieves a perfect balance of originality and focus, theoretical vigor and expressive clarity. His objects of study are literature and Cuban-American art, but framed in the volatile debates that come from post-colonial studies, cultural studies, and theories of nationalism and identity. The benefit of this sophisticated and well-applied methodological framework is enormous to the reader. The questions Dr. Montes poses are lucid, his answers revealing, and his arguments convincing. Studies like these are indispensable to understanding the nexuses between the generations that are forming the new metaphorical map of exile Cuba. For the first generation, preserving memory meant preserving patria. For the second, according to the author, the struggle will be to deterritorialize the homeland by rewriting it.” – Professor Madeline Cámara, University of South Florida

Table of Contents

1. Interrupted Transmissions: Theoretical Constructs of Cuban-American Identity
2. Itineraries of Recovery: Bicultural Identity in Dreaming in Cuban and Going Under
3. Memory and Trauma in Roberto Fernández’s Raining Backwards
4. Beyond Babalú: The Politics of Entertainment in Exile

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