United States of Banana

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United States of Banana
AuthorGiannina Braschi
GenreFiction, Drama, Poetry, Political Philosophical
Publication date

United States of Banana (2011) is a dramatic novel by the Puerto Rican poet Giannina Braschi. Her first work written fully in English, it is a mixed-genre work which blends experimental theater, prose poetry, short story, and political philosophy with a manifesto on democracy and American life in a post–9/11 world. The book dramatizes the global war on terror and narrates the author's displacement after the attacks from her home in the Battery Park neighborhood in New York City.[1] The work addresses Latin American immigration to the United States, Puerto Rico's colonial status, and "power imbalances within the Americas."[2]


Part One: Ground Zero[edit]

Part One, titled as "Ground Zero", offers a poetic critique of 21st-century capitalism and corporate censorship[3] with its depictions of New York City before and during the September 11 attacks.[4] Part One unfolds through a collection of metafiction, short stories, and essays on American culture since the attacks on the World Trade Center.[5] Using avant-garde techniques, Braschi links post-9/11 fears of terrorism with the "daily suffering that stems from a changing, debt-ridden economy to offer a scathing critique of neoliberal economic and social reforms."[6]

Part Two: United States of Banana[edit]

In Part Two, called "United States of Banana", the structure radically changes 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, for more than 100 years, for the crime of having been born.[7] 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.[8]

The experimental play dramatizes the plight of prisoners in the United States, Puerto Rico's position as an American territory, and Braschi's struggle for liberty.[9] By having the people of Puerto Rico vote on Segismundo's liberty, the work satirizes the three political options of Puerto Rico: statehood, nation, or colony.[10] The prison scenes feature Middle Eastern prisoners of war, including those classified as terrorists, who are detained indefinitely[11].


  • 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.[12]
  • In 2015, Colombian film and theater director Juan Pablo Felix adapted United States of Banana for the stage as a play of the same name. This production premiered at Schapiro Theater at Columbia University in New York City.[13][14]


  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.(in Spanish)
  2. ^ Perisic, Alexandra (2019). Precarious Crossings: Immigration, Neoliberalism, and the Atlantic. Ohio: The Ohio State University Press. pp. 152–173. ISBN 978-0-8142-5552-0.
  3. ^ 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.'
  4. ^ Braschi, Giannina (2011). United States of Banana. Seattle: AmazonCrossing. p. 45. ISBN 1611090679.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Riofrio, John (January 28, 2020). "Falling for debt: Giannina Braschi, the Latinx avant-garde, and financial terrorism in the United States of Banana". Latino Studies.
  7. ^ "Review of United States of Banana," Library Journal', 1 October 2011
  8. ^ Romero, Ivette (December 12, 2011). "New Book: Giannina Braschi's United States of Banana". Repeating Islands: News and Commentary on Caribbean Culture.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ 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"'
  11. ^ Perisic, Alexandra (2019). Precarious Crossings: Immigration, Neoliberalism, and the Atlantic. Ohio: The Ohio State University Press. pp. 152–153. ISBN 978-0-8142-5552-0.
  12. ^ "NYS Literary Tree, United States of Banana". NYSCA. December 1, 2011.
  13. ^ "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]
  14. ^ "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".
  15. ^ "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 Eriksson. The graphic dramatic novel will be released at The Stockholm International Comics Festival, taking place in May 19–21st, 2017.
  16. ^ "United States of Banana | Cobolt Förlags webshop". Cobolt Förlag. Retrieved 2017-05-21.

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