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Sweet Diamond Dust

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Overview

Originally published in Spanish under the title Maldito Amor ("Cursed Love"), Rosario Ferre's Sweet Diamond Dust introduced American readers to a voice that is by turns lyrical and wickedly satiric. A finalist for the National Book Award with her 1995 novel, The House on the Lagoon, Ferre here uses family history as a metaphor for the class struggles and political evolution of Latin America and Puerto Rico in particular. The result is writing of the highest order—provocative, profound, yet delightfully readable. ...

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Overview

Originally published in Spanish under the title Maldito Amor ("Cursed Love"), Rosario Ferre's Sweet Diamond Dust introduced American readers to a voice that is by turns lyrical and wickedly satiric. A finalist for the National Book Award with her 1995 novel, The House on the Lagoon, Ferre here uses family history as a metaphor for the class struggles and political evolution of Latin America and Puerto Rico in particular. The result is writing of the highest order—provocative, profound, yet delightfully readable. The "sweet diamond dust" of the title story in this debut collection is, of course, sugar. In this tale the De La Valle family's secrets, ambitions, and passions, interwoven with the fate of the local sugar mill, are recounted by various relatives, friends, and servants. As the characters struggle under the burden of privilege, the story, permeated with haunting echoes of Puerto Rico's own turbulent history, becomes a splendid allegory for a nation's past. The three accompanying stories each follow the lives of the descendants of the De La Valle family, making the book a drama in four parts, raising troubling issues of race, religion, freedom, and sex, with Ferre's trademark irony and startling imagery—a literary experience no reader would want to miss.

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Editorial Reviews

Publisher's Weekly
The history of one contentious family is the basis of the short novel and three stories in this volume spanning a century of national transformation and political and economic upheaval in Puerto Rico. Ferre, a native of that country, begins with an idyll of village life ("It was because the residents of Guamani considered themselves to be the children of their mountain, which resembled from afar a huge green velvet breast, that they were a peaceful people, leery of war and ready to share what little they owned with their neighbors.'') and concludes with a dark vision of the future options of statehood and independence. The tale of family intrigue celebrates the scenic wonder of Puerto Rico, "not a land but a landscape,'' and is filtered through several perspectives; the distinct narrative voices blend to create a whole greater than the sum of the parts. Ferre's seriousness of purpose is conveyed in the symbolism of the stories and their fateful twists of plot. If the tales at times seem overburdened with significance, the graceful writing more than compensates.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The history of one contentious family is the basis of the short novel and three stories in this volume spanning a century of national transformation and political and economic upheaval in Puerto Rico. Ferre, a native of that country, begins with an idyll of village life (``It was because the residents of Guamani considered themselves to be the children of their mountain, which resembled from afar a huge green velvet breast, that they were a peaceful people, leery of war and ready to share what little they owned with their neighbors.'') and concludes with a dark vision of the future options of statehood and independence. The tale of family intrigue celebrates the scenic wonder of Puerto Rico, ``not a land but a landscape,'' and is filtered through several perspectives; the distinct narrative voices blend to create a whole greater than the sum of the parts. Ferre's seriousness of purpose is conveyed in the symbolism of the stories and their fateful twists of plot. If the tales at times seem overburdened with significance, the graceful writing more than compensates. (Jan.)
Patricia Hart
Rosario Ferré shines, and it is high time English—speaking readers bask in her light.
The Nation
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780452277489
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/30/2006
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 721,882
  • Product dimensions: 5.38 (w) x 8.12 (h) x 0.51 (d)

Meet the Author

Rosario Ferre is Puerto Rico's leading woman of letters, with several books of poetry, short fiction, biography, and feminist criticism to her credit. She lives in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Rosario Ferre is Puerto Rico's leading woman of letters, with several books of poetry, short fiction, biography, and feminist criticism to her credit. She lives in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Rosario Ferre is Puerto Rico's leading woman of letters, with several books of poetry, short fiction, biography, and feminist criticism to her credit. She lives in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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Table of Contents

Preface: Memoir of Diamond Dust
I Sweet Diamond Dust 1
II The Gift 87
III Isolda's Mirror 119
IV Captain Candelario's Heroic Last Stand 161
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2000

    CAUTION: LATIN WRITERS IN ENGLISH. HAZARDOUS. READ AT OWN RISK

    Ever since 'When I was Puerto Rican', 'Dreaming in Cuban' and 'How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents', it's become a fad for Latin immigrant writers to jump on the Latin Boom tidal wave with their nostalgic (and often misleading) reminicenses about their home land. Yeah, they all want to sound like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and, according to some reviews in the U.S. ...they actually do (?) In the case of this book, I will limit myself to comment on the preface. For anyone who even considers to think of Rosario Ferré as what she calls ' a typical Puerto Rican' (I can't believe this woman), let me just say that she isn't at all. Her infamous preface has the audacity to mock the whole imaginary and referential codice of the 19th century Puerto Rican Romantic tradition and Modernism respecting the upper classes. This gesture does not only reflect on the jaded register of her so-called 'irony', but also eases the reader into a catalog of her narrow and outdated insights into her so-called 'Puerto Rican issues'. As an island dweller, I laughed my head off at some of her assertions: Yes, this woman comes from a rich prominent family but that doesn't mean she (or her family) was an expert on hacienda owners island-wide so that she can speculate and generalize the economics and living standards of everyone else 'in those days'. And sure, lots of Puerto Ricans migrate to the U.S. (back and forth and lots of them migrate to other places, like Europe and other countries) but lots of us tough it out at home and YES, happiness and fulfillment ARE possible. Just a few minor examples of why, even though her stories are amusing and entertaining, they are by no means representative or worthy of such a commanding preface, least of all deserving of credibility. Her assumptions are incoherent, innacurate and show her own personal hangups and inferiority complexes. I hope Ferré, as well as that Esmeralda Santiago, are both done writing soon. They would do Puerto Rico a great favor if they either stopped, or took the time to review their uneducated guesses and soften their personal political agendas. In the meantime, enjoy it, question it, contest it and toss it.

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