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Raul Palma, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This dissertation consists of samples of my creative work, along with a critical introduction of my novel Manteca. The critical introduction provides a framework for the manner in which my work engages with Cubanidad, the family, Miami, and the nation. Specifically, Manteca is a family drama told through Richie’s 1st person point of view—a perspective that navigates a psychic rift between Miami of the 1980s (a time when South Florida was recovering from its drug wars, race riots) and Miami of the year 2009 (just after the subprime mortgage crises). His is a telling forged by love and repressed love for his sister, Beatrice, an ambition that, with no ethical or moral outlet, becomes disassociated and anthropomorphized in Miami, the city that he reads as love, villain, the taker of his home, family, and culture—an aesthetically pleasing city, but one where beauty and efficiency disguise the city’s history of violence and inequity. Like Rosa in Cynthia Ozick’s The Shawl, Richie’s telling is always in the process of stripping Miami of its imaginary and laying the city bare for his judgement. His family is also caught in the crosshairs of his fatalism when thrust into the context of inheritance and nation-building/wealth-building machinations. Inherent in Manteca is the question of Richie’s redemption: can he escape the cages of his heritage, culture, and nation through the sheer power of narrative? Thus, Richie pursues redemption by staging now-ness in narrative.

Subject Area

Creative writing

Recommended Citation

Palma, Raul, "Manteca" (2018). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI10788889.