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From the Dominican Republic to the U.S. to Live the “Dream”: “Dominicana”

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Why I read Dominicana

 

I ran across Dominicana on a book list somewhere, and to be honest, really the title made me want to read it. It seems almost musical.

 

Why you should read Dominicana

 

You might find Dominicana a confusing read because, if you think about it, it’s a sad story, yet, because of the writing style it doesn’t seem like a sad book.

 

Weird, huh?

 

All of the pieces for sadness are there.  The protagonist, Ana, is married off at age 15 to a man 20 years her senior and packed off to the United States with him…which she enters illegally with a falsified passport. 

 

Her marriage, needless to say, is not great, but somehow, you don’t ever look down at Ana.  You’re never sitting there, in your seat of privileges thinking how hard it is for “some people” and why does she put up with it?  Why doesn’t she go to social services?  At one point she is even presented with some information…her doctor figures out what’s going on…but you are right there with Ana, knowing that she will never ask for help.  Perhaps never think she needs help??

 

You don’t even hate her husband, Juan.  You get it. 

 

I mean, obviously the machismo thing is not acceptable, but I get it, and I think Ana does.

 

And this may sound strange for a book about the immigrant experience, especially someone in circumstances such as Ana’s, but this book also reads like a love letter to New York, and by extensions, the US. Yet at the same time, Ana still loves the Dominican Republic.  As for many immigrants, the US is the promised land.  And I guess, like anything worth having, it’s worth work and sacrifice to get.


I was looking for a good photo of Washington Heights, where the Dominican community is concentrated in NYC and Cruz’s books are set, but this image, with the woman “building” the church, evokes some of the themes of Dominicana to me, so I’m using it even though it isn’t a literal representation of the book.

The Church is both a source of repression and opportunity for women, which is why I like this painting from nycstreetart.org tagged “Swoon in Red Hook.” Click image for source.

 

 

Who is Angie Cruz?


Author Angie Cruz at the 2019 Texas Book Festival in Austin, Texas, United States. Date 26 October 2019. © 2019 Larry D. Moore. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.

Click image for source.

Angie Cruz is from the Dominican Republic, and you can see echoes of her own life in the stories she has written so far.

Now, she is also a professor at the University of Pittsburgh and is the editor-in-chief of Aster (ix) Literary Journal, which I suggest you check out if you enjoy good literature with a feminist bent.

More Great Reads about Latinx Women in The United States

Read The Lois Level on Nilda, a classic about a Puerto Rican family during World War 2: Nilda, a classic of Hispanic-American lit: How an artist can make you see with words

The House on Mango Street is a classic for a reason. It’s short so you can, and will want to, read this book that is practically a prose poem over and over.

Ana of California is author Andi Teran’s first venture into fiction, and the seams of her work shows in places; however, from the beginning you will cheer for the three main characters in this retelling of Anne of Green Gables. And I like that Teran seems to realize that there are three people, all with full lives living in Green Gables, not just one.

Although I like books about plucky orphans, I do get bored with the trope that they send fulfillment to the lives of the poor, empty adults they bless with their presence. Uh-huh.

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