MHC’s Roberto Márquez, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Spanish, Latina/o, Latin American Studies and Caribbean Studies, has just written a new book, A World among These Islands: Essays on Literature, Race, and National Identity in Antillean America (University of Massachusetts Press, 2010), and he will give a reading with UMass professor Martín Espada at the Odyssey Bookshop on December 2 at 7 pm.
Caribbean literature and culture have all too often been viewed in fragmented terms, without attention to the broader commonalities of the region. In this collection of essays written over many years, Márquez offers a more encompassing vision, one that respects the individual traditions of particular locales, languages, and cultures but also sees the larger themes that bind the area's literary heritage and history.
“The volume will in my view be recognized as a seminal text of Caribbean intellectual production, one that gathers the sustained meditation of a foremost scholar and thinker over three and a half decades,” writes Silvio A. Torres-Saillant, author of An Intellectual History of the Caribbean.
In the first section of the book, Márquez makes the case for a genuinely Caribbean literary criticism, one that moves beyond the colonial history of fragmentation and isolation and the critical insularity of more conventional approaches. His pan-Caribbean perspective provides a point of departure for the scrutiny of the evolving dramas of race, nationality, nationbuilding, and cultural articulation in the region.
Márquez then focuses on Puerto Rico and its literary and sociohistorical experience, the particularities of its "New Creole" incarnations, and the effects of waves of migration to the United States. He concludes with a discussion of writers and cultural figures from the other Spanish, Anglophone, and Francophone territories, and the ways in which they engage or reflect the defining themes of literature, race, and national identity in Antillean America.
Márquez is also the author of Puerto Rican Poetry: An Anthology from Aboriginal to Contemporary Times (University of Massachusetts Press, 2007), winner of the New England Council of Latin American Studies Prize for Translation.