When Giannina Braschi, who is Spanish, was asked how writing in English feels, she answered:
I’m in exile from the mother tongue—in exile from the foreign tongue—in exile from all the tongues that wag with the familiarity of knowing—with the credibility and the certainty—and without any kind of doubt that this is their town and country. I laugh out loud—and my laughter is as mother tongue as any laughter in any foreign tongue—but the joke is on me—because my laughter is not cheering for the other team which is roasting the barbaric tongue over an open flame of racist jokes and innuendoes—which is what the mother of all eggs laid in the foreign tongue wants—to leave me speechless—without a motherland—a land to mother my thoughts or a bed to lie down in.
Hamlet & Segismundo are princes of Denmark and Poland but their native tongues are English and Spanish, so when I read them, I read them in exile—in exile from the language of their native land. This distance from the native makes me love more the foreign.
Socrates prefers to die in his homeland than to live in exile. I prefer to live and never feel at ease in any land or language. I wonder why I was chosen, but I also wonder why the chosen are never the most prepared—and why they are chosen when they never asked to be chosen. I read Dante in Spanish and I read Dante in English, but I have never read Dante in Italian, anche parlo italiano e sono italiana. Soy boricua. In spite of my family and in spite of my country, I’m writing the process of the Puerto Rican mind—taking it out of context—as a native and a foreigner—expressing it through Spanish, Spanglish, and English—Independencia, Estado Libre Asociado, and Estadidad—from the position of a nation, a colony, and a state—Wishy, Wishy-Washy, and Washy—not as one political party that is parted into piddley parts and partied out.
–Todos los partidos estan partidos y son unos partidos.
Giannina Braschi has received honors from National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, Ford Foundation, The Danforth, Puerto Rican Institute for Culture, and PEN. She has given readings from her new work United States of Banana at PEN World Voices Festival, Library of Congress National Book Festival, American Studies Association, Modern Language Association, American Literature Association, National Public Library of Puerto Rico, and universities and cultural centers around the country. Prior to discovering writing as a call, Braschi was a tennis champion in Puerto Rico, a fashion model and a singer in her teen years. She later went on to earn a PhD in Literature from the State University of New York in Stony Brook has published on literary titans of Spain including Cervantes, Garcilaso, Machado, Lorca, and Becquer.
Connect with Ms. Braschi at: http://gianninabraschi.wordpress.com/about/
Giannina Braschi’s book explores the politics of empire and independence, the post-9/11 American psyche, and the migrant’s experience of marginality and liberation. Author of the postmodern poetry trilogy Empire of Dreams and the Spanglish classic novel Yo-Yo Boing!, Giannina Braschi is one of the most revolutionary voices in Latin America today. United States of Banana is her first book written in English. She writes in Spanish, Spanglish, and English to explore the linguistic and cultural transformations of millions of immigrants and to challenge the three political options of her native Puerto Rico—independence, colony, and statehood—as “wishy, wishy-washy, and washy”.
First published Spring, 2013,
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