This is a Spanish-language edition of The Latin Deli,
Judith Ortiz Cofer's prizewinning collection of short stories,
personal essays, and poems. A work rich in longing, love, and
remembrance, El deli latino opens a door into the lives of
the Puerto Rican immigrants who live in or near an urban New Jersey
tenement known as "El Building." The book was selected by Rita
Dove, Ashley Montague, and Henry Louis Gates Jr. to receive the
Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, which recognizes work that has made
"important contributions to our understanding of racism or our
appreciation of the rich diversity of human cultures."
In the poem from which the book takes its title, a "woman of
no-age" presides over a small store whose wares--Bustelo coffee,
jamón y queso, "green plantains hanging in stalks like votive
offerings"--must satisfy, however imperfectly, those who hunger for
their island home. In the story "Nada," an anguished mother whose
son has been killed in Vietnam refuses the consolation of her
neighbors and the medals offered by the government ("Tell the Mr.
President of the United States what I say: No, gracias."). Cofer's
essay "The Paterson Public Library" recalls how, in books, she
found refuge and solace from the outside world.
El deli latino transcends the particulars of the
expatriate experience to speak universal truths about the mysteries
of desire, the quest for knowledge, and the struggle to reconcile
Subjects: Language & Literature
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