Fractal Families in New Millennium Narrative by Afro-Puerto Rican Women

Author(s) John T. Maddox IV

Language: English

Genre(s): Literary Criticism

Series: Iberian and Latin American Studies

  • November 2022 · 264 pages ·216x138mm

  • · Hardback - 9781786839107
  • · eBook - pdf - 9781786839114
  • · eBook - epub - 9781786839121

About The Book

Since 2007, Afro-Puerto Rican women have been revising the foundational myths of the island and the diaspora to create a new vision of family as a national allegory that includes powerful Black protagonists. Novelists Mayra Santos-Febres and Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa tell the diaspora’s history, beginning with trans-Atlantic slavery. Santos-Febres’s allegories use sadomasochism and healing in the novels Fe en disfraz and La amante de Gardel. Short story writers Arroyo Pizarro’s las Negras and Yvonne Denis-Rosario’s Capá prieto chronicle the struggle to create and preserve an empowering history of slavery and Black people on the island and in the diaspora. Llanos-Figueroa’s Daughters of the Stone envisages a sugar plantation in which Afrodescendants are free and respected. They remake the ‘great Puerto Rican family’ to give greater agency to Afro-Puerto Ricans and include the diaspora in a ‘fractal family’. While liberating, these novels also depict the traumas wrought by both the maintenance and the dissolution of patriarchal, heteronormative, colonial and racist structures.


‘For decades, Afro-Puerto Rican writers have been waiting for critical readings of our literary work that take into consideration our self-definition of categories informing our novels, poems, essays, chronicles and interdisciplinary manifestation of our work … The present study gives me hope, perhaps to repair decades of colonised reading of our production, and create the route for inclusion in the system of literary decolonial studies that gives the long awaited justices we claim as knowledge producers.’
Mayra Santos-Febres, author and cultural activist
‘Fractal Families is a necessary, timely intervention. The author offers urgent readings of Afro-Puerto Rican women's literature, engaging groundbreaking recent works by Mayra Santos-Febres, Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro, Yvonne Dennis-Rosario, and Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa. This book will be required reading for anyone interested in contemporary Puerto Rican, Caribbean, and Latin American literature and culture.’
Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes, Professor of Spanish, American Culture, and Women’s and Gender Studies, University of Michigan


Introduction: Fractal Families
Chapter One: Becoming Family: Mayra Santos Febres’s Fe en disfraz and La amante de Gardel
Chapter Two: Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro: Cimarronas, Love and Breaking the Silence
Chapter Three: Yvonne Denis-Rosario: Fathers, Mothers, Fractals and Writing
Chapter Four: Oshun and the Palenque-Plantation in Daughters of the Stone
Conclusion: Afro-Borinquén Today and Tomorrow
Appendix: Author Interviews
Glossary of Terms
Works Cited

About the Author(s)

Author(s): John T. Maddox IV

John T. Maddox IV is Associate Professor of Spanish and African American Studies at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is the author of Challenging the Black Atlantic (2021).

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