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from sea to shining sea
stepping into the american dream, xavier cortada

Institute for Cuban & Cuban American Studies
ICCAS is part of the University of Miami and serves as a center for the study of Cuban and Cuban-American topics

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Power of Prose Index

Power of Prose

Cuban-American Voices

American literature is unique in the number of voices and cultures it conveys, giving it the power to transform opinions and challenge stereotypes in both obvious and subtle ways. Christa Smith Anderson explains how Cuban Americans have added new spice to Florida’s bilingual literature.

Cuban-Americans bring a distinct flavor to Florida's literary territory. Havana-born Ricardo Pau-Llosa moved to the United States at the age of six. The bilingualism of his story, “Martes,” captures the seamless blend of English and Spanish spoken in many Florida communities. José asks Migdalia about her boots and she replies: “Y dale con las botas. Okay. I bought them at a diplotienda — a store for diplomats or tourists with hard currency, I forget that many gusanos don't know about these things.” Quietly, José objects to her use of “gusano," a word which he considers “fidelista” and marks “exiles as ‘worms.’[1]

Roberto G. Fernandez writes about the Cuban-Americans of Florida. In his novel Nellie, Fernandez’s title character finds a cardboard fan that reflects some cross-cultural miscommunication, even though it is intended to appeal to her. On the front of the fan is a “Scandinavian Christ resting by a river bank... holding a black sheep in his lap.” On the back of the fan is a message written in Spanish:

Pescador arre pienta dios enohado con usted ben y tiemplo primero vivo llamar reverend y amigo augustus b. Fender. Ole! Se habla pequeno espanol. (Fisherman, repent! God mad with you. Come and i screw first living. Call reverend and friend augustus b. Fender. Ole! A small spanish is spoken.) [2]

Suggested Reading/Additional Resources

  • Ricardo Pau-Llosa, Learn about this author from an interview with Alberto Milian.
  • Poey, Delia, and Virgil Suarez, eds. Iguana Dreams: New Latino Fiction. New York: Harper Perennial, 1992.
  • Ravenel, Shannon, ed. New Stories from the South 2003.  Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2003.

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Christa Smith Anderson holds an MFA in Creative Writing from George Mason University and received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Virginia. After several years producing and writing television news, she is now a federal government employee by day and a fiction writer the rest of the time. She received the 2002 Cynthia Wynn Herman Scholarship from George Mason University and has published non-fiction in So to Speak, a Feminist Journal of Language and Arts.

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  1. Poey, Delia, and Virgil Suarez, ed. Iguana Dreams: New Latino Fiction.  New York: Harper Perennial,1992. 219.
  2. Poey, Delia, and Virgil Suarez, ed. Iguana Dreams: New Latino Fiction.  New York: Harper Perennial,1992. 62.

Sponsored by:

National Endowment for the Humanities Hewlett Foundation Ford Foundation   Arthur Vining Davis Foundations Carnegie Corporation

National Endowment
for the Humanities

William and Flora Hewlett
Foundation

Ford
Foundation

Rosalind P.
Walter

Arthur Vining
Davis Foundations

Carnegie
Corporation of New York