Midwest Book Review Recommends Giannina Braschi’s Graphic Novel
Synopsis: “I was a monument to immigration — now I’m a border control cop.” So admits the Statue of Liberty in Giannina Braschi’s graphic novel, “United States of Banana”. This rollicking and nakedly political allegory of US imperialism and Puerto Rican independence is illustrated by Swedish comic book artist Joakim Lindengren and based on Braschi’s epic manifesto by the same title.
The story takes us along on the madcap adventures of Zarathustra, Hamlet, and Giannina herself as they rescue the Puerto Rican prisoner Segismundo from under the skirt of the Statue of Liberty. Throughout their quest, the characters debate far-ranging political and philosophical subjects, spanning terrorism, global warming, mass incarceration, revolution, and love. The Marx Brothers, Pablo Neruda, Barack Obama, Disney characters and more make appearances in this stirring call to overthrow empire, liberate the imprisoned masses, and build a new country rooted in friendship, art, poetry, and laughter.
United States of Banana: verdict, recommended!
As iconoclastic and entertaining as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, “United States of Banana” is a tale for our times and unreservedly recommended for community, college and university library political graphic novel collections.Midwest Book Review
It should be noted for personal reading lists that “United States of Banana” is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.61).
United States of Banana
Giannina Braschi, author
Joakim Lindengren, illustrator
Amanda M. Smith, editor
Amy Sheeran, editor
Mad Creek Books
c/o Ohio State University Press
180 Pressey Hall, 1070 Carmack Road, Columbus, OH 43210-1002
9780814257869, $19.95, PB, 128pp
Evergreen Review recommends United States of Banana (the original)
Daniela Daniele, Professor of American Literature University of Udine, Italy
Apocalypse and grand-guignol merge in Giannina Braschi’s irreverent account of September 11th. Turning disaster into a Surreal nightmare, she catalogues what is left of the attack to the Towers in the form of scattered body parts: here, the torso of a businessmen flying in his bright white shirt, there, two hands holding each other before the last jump, and, only few blocks away, a rolling head crowned by glazed donuts.
Perfect for an audiobook in its jazzy, colloquial style, and ideal to be read aloud in the corrosive style of Lenny Bruce, United States of Banana develops from the sophisticated intricacy of a Postmodern narrative, overlapping the voices of Segismundo and Hamlet, Calderon and Shakespeare, Seneca and Artaud. Through her intertextual vision shaped by the masterpieces of both the Spanish and the English tradition, the Puerto Rican writer accounts for the falling towers as the ultimate American spectacle, turning terror and catastrophe into a tragic comedy seen through the bewildered, satiric eyes of a Hispanic passer-by. Her black humor is as blasphemous as Max Papeschi’s digital collage of McDonald’s clowns in a military mission in Afghanistan. Challenging the fear and repression of dissent in the age of terror, Giannina Braschi wickedly brings a black humorous touch to the entropic scenes of disaster, writing from the estranged perspective of a Puerto Rican in New York. The best part of her writing lies in the code switching and the verbal ironies produced by her creative use of Spanglish, which contributes to make of September 11th a transnational event broader than the monochrome version staged on tv.
From its very title, United States of Banana, is the quintessential danse macabre of the millennium, coming from a word-player who knows how to grin at despair, like a Shakespearean fool who is too busy to dig out from the ashes the signs of a new era to partake of the mourning hoopla of the national order resuscitated after the mutilating attack to the most iconic towers in media history.
Syllabus: Postcolonial Literature, Latino Graphic Novels, Puerto Rican Novels, Postmodernism, Hysterical Realism, September 11th Novels.