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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Betraying the Island. Identidad puertorriqueña y subalternidad en No quiero quedarme sola y vacía.

  • Author(s): Robyn, Ingrid
  • et al.

The purpose of this paper is to explore the problem of Puerto Rican identity in No quiero quedarme sola y vacía (2006), by Ángel Lozada. Significantly disregarded by most Puerto Rican critics, this novel deals with the seemingly impossible task of constructing a subjective and cultural identity from the perspective of a homosexual Puerto Rican exiled in the United States - something that is reflected in the “pastiche” character of both the novel, its mutating narrator and its hybrid language. But the novel actually goes beyond that. Rejecting any kind of “political correctness”, Ángel Lozada constructs a narrator who, despite his double “subaltern” condition, disrupts any discourse that could eventually question the basis of his own “subalternity”. Instead, he attempts to “assimilate” himself within the “dominant” culture. Indeed, rejecting his Puerto Rican origins - in great part, due to the homophobia he felt on the island -, all the while sustaining a superficial nationalism, the narrator of this novel paradoxically reproduces the same homophobic logic when referring to other “subalterns”, namely citizens of other Caribbean nations. By analyzing the ambiguous relationship the novel’s narrator sustains with his homeland I show not only how he denounces the contradictions implied by any effort to establish a Puerto Rican identity, especially from a homosexual perspective, but that he can actually be seen as a traitor, someone who is, at the same time, in and out his own group and culture.

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