United States of Banana

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United States of Banana
Author Giannina Braschi

United States of Banana is a 2011 postcolonial work of fiction by the Puerto Rican poet Giannina Braschi. It is a mixed-genre work which blends experimental theater, prose poetry, short story, and essay with a manifesto on democracy and American power in a post–September 11 world. The postmodern book narrates the author's violent displacement from her home in the Battery Park neighborhood in New York City.[1]


Part One: Ground Zero[edit]

Part One, entitled "Ground Zero", offers a poetic critique of 21st century capitalism and corporate censorship[2] with its depictions of New York City before and during the September 11 attacks.[3] Part One unfolds through a collection of metafiction, short stories, and essays on American culture since the collapse of the World Trade Center.[4]

Part Two: United States of Banana[edit]

In Part Two, called "United States of Banana", the structure radically changes from a collection of fragmented works into an experimental theater work consisting of dramatic and philosophical dialogues. Historical literary characters Hamlet and Zarathustra (Zoroaster) join the author's alter-ego, Giannina, on a quest to liberate the Puerto Rican prisoner Segismundo from the dungeon of the Statue of Liberty where he has been held by his father, the King of the United States of Banana, more than 100 years prior for the crime of having been born.[5] When the king remarries, he frees his son, and for the sake of reconciliation, makes Puerto Rico the fifty-first state and grants American passports to all Latin American citizens.[6]

The experimental play dramatizes the plight of Latino prisoners in the United States, Puerto Rico's position as an American territory, and Braschi's struggle for liberty.[7] By having the people of Puerto Rico vote on Segismundo's liberty, the work satirizes the three political options of Puerto Rico: statehood, nation, and colony.[8]

Film and theater productions[edit]

  • In 2011, American photographer Michael Somoroff directed and produced a series of short art films of the author's oral interpretation of the book; these films debuted at Cervantes Institute in New York on December 1, 2012.[9]
  • In 2011 and 2012, Braschi gave a series of dramatic readings from United States of Banana at major festivals, cultural centers, and literary conventions.
  • In 2015, Colombian film and theater director Juan Pablo Felix adapted United States of Banana for the stage and debuted the production at Schapiro Theater at Columbia University in New York City.[10][11]

Graphic novel[edit]

In 2017, the novel was adapted as a Swedish graphic novel illustrated by Joakim Lindengren.[12][13]


  1. ^ Torrens, Claudia (October 20, 2011). "Novela de Braschi fantasea con un mundo ideal para hispanos. [Braschi's Novel Fantasizes About Ideal World for Hispanics]". Associated Press. Archived from the original on August 13, 2014. Retrieved April 16, 2013. 
  2. ^ Roth, Larry (May 7, 2012). "Rushdie Brings PEN Festival to Close". The New York Times. New York. 'A critique of 21st century capitalism in which [Braschi] condemned corporate censorship and control.' 
  3. ^ Braschi, Giannina (2011). United States of Banana. Seattle: AmazonCrossing. p. 45. ISBN 1611090679. 
  4. ^ Pérez-Duthie, Juan Carlos (November 24, 2011). "Autora busca la libertad en la palabra: "United States of Banana", lo nuevo y controversial de la boricua Giannina Braschi (Author Searches for Liberty in the Word, The New and Controversial "United States of Banana" by Boricua Giannina Braschi)". Sun Sentinel. Miami. 
  5. ^ Library Journal's Review of United States of Banana, October 1, 2011
  6. ^ Romero, Ivette (December 12, 2011). "New Book: Giannina Braschi's United States of Banana". Repeating Islands: News and Commentary on Caribbean Culture. 
  7. ^ Delgado, José A. (September 24, 2012). "La libertad no es una opción, es un derecho [Liberty is Not an Option, It is a Right]". El Nuevo Día. 
  8. ^ Hernandez, Carmen Dolores (February 2012). "El reino del absurdo [The Reign of the Absurd]". El Nuevo Día. San Juan, Puerto Rico. 'Puerto Rico's destiny should be decided between "wishy", "wishy-washy" or "washy"' 
  9. ^ "NYS Literary Tree, United States of Banana". NYSCA. December 1, 2011. 
  10. ^ "United States of Banana, a play based on the book by Giannina Braschi". Poets and Writers Magazine. May 2015. ”Colombian film and theater director Juan Pablo Felix brings to the stage for the first time ‘United States of Banana,’ by poet Giannina Braschi on the post-911 American psyche around the politics of empire and independence.” [dead link]
  11. ^ "Columbia Theater Director Debuts United States of Banana". LatinoLa Magazine. May 2015. ”The work depicts New York City as "the Darwinist capital of the Capitalist word" and U.S. imperialism as doomed as "a chicken with its head cut off".” 
  12. ^ "New Release: A Swedish Comic Book of United States of Banana". gianninabraschi. 2017-04-30. Retrieved 2017-05-21. The Swedish Comic Book publisher COBOLT will release Joakim Lindengren‘s illustrated version of United States of Banana by Giannina Braschi in Swedish translation by the poet Helena Erikkson. The graphic dramatic novel will be released at The Stockholm International Comics Festival, taking place in May 19–21st, 2017. 
  13. ^ "United States of Banana | Cobolt Förlags webshop". Cobolt Förlag. Retrieved 2017-05-21. 

External links[edit]