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Elías Sandoval stands in line at Miami International Airport, desperately hoping he’s picked the right immigration agent, the one who will open the doors to the promise of America. Elías comes to the United States hoping to storm the arts scene as a sculptor, only to be handed a dishcloth and a tray for clearing dishes.
His quest leads us through a series of misadventures on the path taken by so many Latin American immigrants: from the lines of U.S. immigration to the kitchen sinks of restaurants and the bellboy-bound corridors of hotels in New York City.
In Central America, he has left Helena behind, who through anxious - and hilarious - phone exchanges exerts constant pressure on her far-off boyfriend to send for her, in the hopes that she can fulfill her mother’s lifelong dream of going to Miami.
Raucous culture conflict and communication barriers due to poor translation and off-kilter antics comprise Quesada’s formula for fun while exploring the ambiguous status of Latino immigrants fresh off the proverbial boat.
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ROBERTO QUESADA is the author of the acclaimed novel, The Big Banana (Arte Público Press, 1999), The Ships (Los barcos), and The Human and the Goddess (El humano y la diosa). Born in Olanchito, Honduras, Quesada founded and, for several years, directed the literary magazine Sobrevuelto. He lives and works in New York City.From Publishers Weekly:
El¡as Sandoval, the anxious protagonist of Quesada's charming, lighthearted short novel, is sweating bullets as he stands before curt immigration officials at Miami International Airport in a valiant attempt to get a six-month visa into America. With $60 in his pocket, a one-way plane ticket and dreams of finding fame as a sculptor, El¡as smooth talks his way past security checkpoints into America, gets a job waiting tables in New York City and moves in with friend Mario, a photographer and fellow immigrant. He's left his irritable songbird of a girlfriend behind in Honduras with the promise that he'll send for her when he gets settled. Helena frets that she'll end up like her scorned mother, Dina, and suffer the "curse of Perestroika" when a Latino man leaves his wife for America and never contacts her again still, both mother and daughter visualize the "greatest dream: to see Miami." Helena and Dina get desperate when El¡as's phone calls become hurried and infrequent, and they hatch a plan to get Helena to the U.S. by any means necessary. Meanwhile, Laura, a fellow restaurant worker, has caught El¡as's eye, and his first Manhattan art gallery exhibition (and the novel's only implausible scene) is a monetary success. El¡as finally finances Helena's flight to the States, but her faith in him has vanished, and she herself vanishes too upon her arrival in Miami. Some of the dialogue can be didactic, but that's a minor stumble in this amusing story bolstered by its knowledgeable meditations on the Central American immigration experience. Quesada's energetic prose makes this a swift, pleasing read and nice reinforcement for anyone doubting the hopes and dreams powering America and its melting-pot population.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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