Título: Singing Softly/Cantando Bajito
Editorial: Aunt Lute Books
Condición del libro: Good
"A moving and powerful novel that explores how the forces of colonialism, misogyny and racism emerge in the lives of a family affected by this history. The language of the narrative is rich and evocative and the characters are both real and surreal in the intensity of imagination. An important book."--Susan Griffin "A novel worth reading."--New Directions for WomenReview:
In retrospect, The Boom in Latin American Literature, by the Chilean novelist Jose Donoso (an early translation attempt of mine, published by Columbia University Press in 1977 and still one of the few critical introductions to that extraordinary flourishing of the South American novel), there is a strong sense of something very much amiss. Amiss with the South American publishing industry that ignored major women writers? Amiss with this shm volume that emphasized male writers from South of the Border? Probably both and neither; Donoso described the subjective reality of the Boom through the eyes and memory of one of the movement's most brilliant participants. All of this is a preface to Carmen de Monteflores' wonderfully written and truly moving novel, Singing Softly/Cantando Bajito. A poet and playwright and now, with this first work of fiction, a major novelist, Monteflores shakes up those old categories. Add the name of this Puerto Rican writer living on the United States mainland and writing in English to the popular list of Latin American women writers (Allende, Ferre, Valenzuela) and the long list of major writers known only to specialists in Latin American literature (Victoria Ocarnpo and Elena Poniatowska, among others). In its depiction of three generations of a Puerto Rican family and in its very successful use of bilingual dialogue, (innovative and not for one minute clumsy, redundant, or off-putting), Singing Softly is a fine novel. Its range is both broad and deep, and its emotional impact on the reader is really quite strong. It's a comment on the publishing world that such a fine novel might never have come to my attention if Small Press hadn't sent along a copy. I suppose what I'm talking about is "discourse" and "literary canon" and how certain writers are embraced by commercial houses while others struggle for recognition. In this case, good for Spinsters/Aunt Lute and even better for Carmen de Montefloresl -- From Independent Publisher
Now a grown woman, Meli is still curious about her family. Her grandmother, abuelita Pilar - the person who told her stories, made her feel safe, the one who sang softly to her as they walked - was a source of strength for Meli. But Pilar died many years ago and that life feels so far away. Singing Softly centers on Pilar and her families, the one she was born into and the one she created with her own children and grandchildren. Pilar's white father works cutting sugar cane, barely making enough money to feed the family. Her Puerto Rican mother is fully occupied with raising the children, stretching the food, and making clothing last and last. Pilar knows that "Poverty had made her mother old...Poverty was the worst kind of sickness." When Juan, the local shop owner's relative, falls in love with Pilar, it's a love her family doesn't trust. How could a wealthy white man love their daughter? Looking back, Meli tries to understand the effects of color and poverty on her grandmother, her mother, and herself. Though Meli's search uncovers painful lessons, she gently exposes a bit of the story now, more later, swaying back and forth in time with language that is warm and inviting. -- For great reviews of books for girls, check out Let's Hear It for the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14. -- From 500 Great Books by Women; review by Holly Smith
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