Rita Indiana Papi: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9780226244891

Papi: A Novel

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9780226244891: Papi: A Novel
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“Papi’s there, around any corner,” says the eight-year-old girl at the heart of Papi. “But you can’t sit down and wait for him cuz that’s a longer and more painful death.” Living in Santo Domingo, she waits for her father to come back from the United States and lavish her with the glorious rewards of his fame and fortune—shiny new cars and polo shirts, gold chains and Nikes. But when Papi does come back, he turns out to be more “like Jason, the guy from Friday the 13th," than a prince. Papi is a drug dealer, a man who is clearly unreliable and dangerous but nevertheless makes his daughter feel powerful and wholly, terrifyingly alive.

Drawing on her memories of a childhood split between Santo Domingo and visits with her father amid the luxuries of the United States, Rita Indiana mixes satire with a child’s imagination, horror with science fiction, in a swirling tale of a daughter’s love, the lure of crime and machismo, and the violence of the adult world. Expertly translated into English for the first time by Achy Obejas, who renders the rhythmic lyricism of Indiana’s Dominican Spanish in language that propels the book forward with the relentless beat of a merengue, Papi is furious, musical, and full of wit—a passionate, overwhelming, and very human explosion of artistic virtuosity.
 

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About the Author:

Rita Indiana—also known as La Montra, the monster, in her role as the lead singer of Rita Indiana y los Misterios—is a music composer and producer and rising star of contemporary Caribbean literature.

Review:

“As delirious as it is powerful, Papi is a harrowing vision of a daughter trapped in the underworld of her father. Rita Indiana is one of a kind.” (Junot Díaz)

“Indiana’s genre-defying novel, her first translated into English, captures the intensity of a growing up with a drug lord for a father. . . . The prose reverberates with energy; Indiana—who is a musician as well as a writer—has a keen ear, and Obejas brilliantly transfigures her prosody into English. Deeply felt and formally inventive, Indiana’s novel crackles with intensity and oddity.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Most children believe their parents are perfect, and the realization that they aren’t typically comes as something of a shock. But the 8-year-old unnamed protagonist of Dominican writer Indiana's English-language debut is not typical. . . . As she struggles to make sense of the dysfunction, images gleaned from horror movies, science fiction, telenovelas, and fantasy collide with her lived experience. Throughout, long run-on sentences force readers to sort through a dizzying array of words, emotions, and images. Palpable pain spills forth, as do the girl's confusion, angst, and tumultuous inner life. A masterfully drawn, if sad, work of experimental coming-of-age fiction.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Exists somewhere between dream and delirium. . . . Indiana’s stream-of-consciousness narrative creates a world like Alice’s Wonderland—if it had been set in the Dominican Republic, that is. Papi is a curiosity, apparently a cult classic in the Caribbean, while its author is a celebrated musician and something of a cult classic herself. Does that make her sui generis? Readers will decide for themselves.” (Booklist)

“Freewheeling, baroque, braggartly, and crude. For all her attempts to immortalize him, we get a far better picture of Papi through his daughter’s imitation: Papi is a cocky, mean bastard who exults in his own overabundance. In addition to being a drug lord, he’s a terrible father, but his daughter loves him. ‘My Papi has more of everything than your papi.’ A poignant debut.” (Globe and Mail)

Papi . . . is entering the American literary scene at a ripe moment. . . .  Works of literary fiction in translation have been appearing regularly on the bestseller lists since the 2012 publication of the first of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan series and its intimate, visceral description of women grappling with male-dominated violence and class struggle. Papi takes on many of the same concerns, unfurling in an eight-year-old’s breathless ode to her father as she waits for his return to the Dominican Republic from the United States. The voice vibrates at a high frequency, broadcasting the braggadocio necessary to keep the precarious center of anticipation from falling out. . . . Language with such pulse and intensity, easily traceable to the author’s roots as musician, might pose a challenge for a lesser translator. . . . Readers who enjoy the book have reason to shout hallelujah . . . : Papi is just the first of the books in the ‘Trilogía de las Niñas Locas.’” (Jac Jemc Newcity)

“In this rhythmic and feverish novel, it’s hard to tell where fantasy ends and terrifying reality begins.” (Shelf Awareness)

"[One of '10 Chicago Books to Look Forward To in 2016']. . . . When a young girl’s father returns to Santo Domingo from the United States, she realizes that America doesn’t always mean Nikes and new cars. Indiana melds sci-fi and satire into a horrific coming-of-age novel about the relationship between drug dealer and child.” (Calley Nelson Chicago Magazine)

“Overlooking this slim-spine novel would be a mistake. Papi’s virtues are many, from the protagonist’s singular voice to Indiana’s rhythmic prose. . . . Papi is a fascinating portrait and an astute examination of a complex father-daughter relationship.” (Chicago Review of Books)

“Indiana is from the Dominican Republic and is I think, for me, the best novelist in the last twenty years. If you want to understand Dominican society today you have to read her books, in particular Papi, a journey about a young girl becoming an adult. This book offered a lot of images that I think at some point I use in my works.” (Jorge Pineda Literary Hub)

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