Empire of Dreams


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Giannina Braschi; Translated from the Spanish by Tess O`Dwyer; With an Introduction by Alicia Ostriker

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Straddling the line between fiction and poetry, Empire of Dreams speaks of Puerto Rican poet Giannina Braschi's love affair with New York City—her imagined social, political, erotic, and linguistic relationships to the place that has acted as a magnet to Puerto Ricans for so many years.

The work deals with issues of performance, gender ambiguity, and marginality. It is concerned with the boundaries of language and the possibilities of cross-dressing poetry as commercials, diary, tabloids, gossip, confessions, videos, autobiography, musicals, and manifesto. Characters turn into other characters. Clowns, buffoons, shepherds, lead soldiers, magicians, madmen, witches, fortune-tellers, and artists perform their fantasies in the city streets. An antinovel within the book satirizes the writer's role in the modern age and calls for a revolution of poetry. New York City becomes the site of liberation for its marginal citizens, as the narrator is led through a seeming phantasmagoria of internal and external trials in order to experience the center—of political power, of meaning, of feeling, and of personal identity.

Giannina Braschi is professor of Spanish at City University of New York. She was born in 1953 in Puerto Rico and has lived in New York City since 1977. She is the author of five books of poetry and is the recipient of numerous awards. Before settling in New York, she lived in San Juan, Madrid, Paris, Rome, and London.

"Braschi writes with a strong poetic tradition behind her, and from her erudite standpoint she forges an odd mixture of poetry, prose, drama, and a little of what could be considered music. She imbues her text with jollity and a brilliant energy that stretches its audience from lovers of modernism to seekers of a broadened artistry of language."—Carolyn Kuebler, Review of Contemporary Fiction

"In this striking collection of brief, evocative prose pieces . . . [Braschi] describes moments of experience and their contingencies. . . . As translated by O'Dwyer, her rhythmic, energetic prose is challenging yet accessible."—Publishers Weekly

"Braschi's book is a modern classic, informed with all of the major concerns of our contemporary culture."—Arnaldo Cruz-Malavé

"Braschi invites us into a world in which objects, places, and elements are animated, a world in which the profane comedy of literature is staged in an entirely new way. Empire of Dreams is an absolute joy-ride!"—Jean Franco

"Empire of Dreams is a masterpiece, brilliantly translated. Braschi writes as an accomplished cosmopolitan, heir(ess) to the traditions of Lorca, Neruda, Mistral, and Márquez."—Alicia Ostriker, from the Introduction

ISBN: 9780300057959
Publication Date: August 31, 1994
244 pages, 5.25 x 8.25

Sales Restrictions: Rights reverted