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The Latin Deli: Prose and Poetry

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A community transplanted from what they now view as an island paradise, these Puerto Rican families yearn for the colors and tastes of their former home. As they carve out lives as Americans, their days are filled with drama, success, and sometimes tragedy. A widow becomes crazy after her son is killed in Vietnam, her remaining word "nada." Another woman carries on after t A community transplanted from what they now view as an island paradise, these Puerto Rican families yearn for the colors and tastes of their former home. As they carve out lives as Americans, their days are filled with drama, success, and sometimes tragedy. A widow becomes crazy after her son is killed in Vietnam, her remaining word "nada." Another woman carries on after the death of her husband, keeping their store, filled with plantain, Bustello coffee, jamon y queso, open as a refuge for her neighbors. And there are Cofer's stories of growing up with a dictatorial and straying father, a caring mother, and a love for language that will lead to a career as a teacher and writer.


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A community transplanted from what they now view as an island paradise, these Puerto Rican families yearn for the colors and tastes of their former home. As they carve out lives as Americans, their days are filled with drama, success, and sometimes tragedy. A widow becomes crazy after her son is killed in Vietnam, her remaining word "nada." Another woman carries on after t A community transplanted from what they now view as an island paradise, these Puerto Rican families yearn for the colors and tastes of their former home. As they carve out lives as Americans, their days are filled with drama, success, and sometimes tragedy. A widow becomes crazy after her son is killed in Vietnam, her remaining word "nada." Another woman carries on after the death of her husband, keeping their store, filled with plantain, Bustello coffee, jamon y queso, open as a refuge for her neighbors. And there are Cofer's stories of growing up with a dictatorial and straying father, a caring mother, and a love for language that will lead to a career as a teacher and writer.

30 review for The Latin Deli: Prose and Poetry

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ayre

    This is a small collection of short stories, essays, and poetry about women's lives. Specifically immigrated Puerto Rican women. Most of these stories, though not all, take place in a community called El Building in Paterson, New Jersey. The themes of many of these stories cover heartache and loss. Some of them, when going outside of the community, address racism. All of them feature women who do what is necessary to survive. I got this book year and years ago for a feminist literature class in This is a small collection of short stories, essays, and poetry about women's lives. Specifically immigrated Puerto Rican women. Most of these stories, though not all, take place in a community called El Building in Paterson, New Jersey. The themes of many of these stories cover heartache and loss. Some of them, when going outside of the community, address racism. All of them feature women who do what is necessary to survive. I got this book year and years ago for a feminist literature class in college. We ended up running out of time to read it so its been sitting on my shelf since then. I finally got around to reading it and, while this isn't really my taste in literature, it was very interesting to read from a prospective so different than my own. If you like poetry and literary prose and want to read about the immigrant experience then I highly recommend this. My personal favorite story is Corazon's Cafe. I cried like a baby.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rafiana

    Exceptional! I just love this book. All the stories and poems are cohesive through a Puerto Rican woman's perspective and their experiences in the Diaspora. I particularly love the the 50s, 60, and 70s time period, it brings a lot of awareness to what my mother and the women I grew up experience in the US. We see the deep emotional aspect of what it feels like to leave home at any age, and she writes it so beautifully. My favorite is "Corazon's Café". Exceptional! I just love this book. All the stories and poems are cohesive through a Puerto Rican woman's perspective and their experiences in the Diaspora. I particularly love the the 50s, 60, and 70s time period, it brings a lot of awareness to what my mother and the women I grew up experience in the US. We see the deep emotional aspect of what it feels like to leave home at any age, and she writes it so beautifully. My favorite is "Corazon's Café".

  3. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    I really liked this book because it was blend of prose and poetry! Very unique. I liked reading about the childhood of Judith Ortiz Cofer and how she fought I unjust stereotypes all her life. She truly is an inspiration and hard worker. I am looking forward to discussing this novel in English on Monday.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Gineen

    a wonderful storyteller and worthwhile intimate stories with heart and soul. after I read it and now see the book on my bookshelf, I think of the author with warm friendly regard. i wouldn't have minded if this book was twice as long. or there was a volume 2. a wonderful storyteller and worthwhile intimate stories with heart and soul. after I read it and now see the book on my bookshelf, I think of the author with warm friendly regard. i wouldn't have minded if this book was twice as long. or there was a volume 2.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Raleigh

    straight up poetry for most of it. which i kinda liked, made things go by a little faster. I stand by the 4 stars.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Roselia Ekhause

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Stories of women from The building in Paterson New Jersey. Great for high school students.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rasma

    I liked a lot here, in particular seeing how she incorporated poetry with prose and refused to follow a strict chronology, leaving large gaps of her story out of the story. I'm interested in what memoirists choose to leave out, and love to examine the different ways of crafting the guise of wholeness and continuity. Here the author doesn't intend to not interrupt. Without apology she serves you up a poem when you turn the page expecting the prose to continue. The long piece that seems to be fict I liked a lot here, in particular seeing how she incorporated poetry with prose and refused to follow a strict chronology, leaving large gaps of her story out of the story. I'm interested in what memoirists choose to leave out, and love to examine the different ways of crafting the guise of wholeness and continuity. Here the author doesn't intend to not interrupt. Without apology she serves you up a poem when you turn the page expecting the prose to continue. The long piece that seems to be fiction is a bit of a conundrum, as are the pieces that are exclusively about other people. But then she never says it's a memoir; it's a deli, a smorgasbord. It just has so much memoir, even autobiography, that I start reading expecting a meal, and in the end am left a little bit hungry. I can't help but be influenced by the fact that I bought this book, indeed learned about Judith Ortiz Cofer only when she died and poets I knew mentioned her in tribute. I looked up her poems that were said to be about cultural identity and a sense of place, themes that are kindred to my own, and immediately fell in love with her writing. Yet it is a strange feeling to have a sudden active interest in someone who died unexpectedly (relatively young) before she was done writing, or rather, while she was at the height of her writing. I can't help but read this book under the banner of knowing more than the author knows; she's writing about going forward with her life, moving into the future she has made happen, which is to become a writer, yet the reader knows how the story really ends. It's faulty if not ridiculous reasoning; obviously everything is written by someone who is not yet dead or thinking of themselves as soon to be... so what's the difference? Maybe it's the closeness in time. She just died, and I never knew her work before, and I feel it's important work for me to know, and it's over, there will be no more. It makes reading her private stories seem slightly invasive. I'm a bit between a 3 and a 4 on this, I am glad I read it, glad to be brought closer to a culture I know little about because I've never been attracted by nature to anything Spanish speaking, and most of the pieces persuade me. I'm looking forward to reading her other books.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Dines

    Yet another wonderful collection from one of my two favorite authors (the other being Elena Ferrante)! Judith Ortiz Cofer writes poetry that touches the heart and prose that stimulates the mind. Her observations of herself and the world as viewed from inside her linguistic and precise mind provide me with infinite points of reflection on my own life as a woman, a writer, and a teacher. Cofer's writing mentors me in my own writing practice, and I am grateful for each book of hers that I read. My Yet another wonderful collection from one of my two favorite authors (the other being Elena Ferrante)! Judith Ortiz Cofer writes poetry that touches the heart and prose that stimulates the mind. Her observations of herself and the world as viewed from inside her linguistic and precise mind provide me with infinite points of reflection on my own life as a woman, a writer, and a teacher. Cofer's writing mentors me in my own writing practice, and I am grateful for each book of hers that I read. My favorite pieces in the book are about libraries as sanctuaries and an artist's dedication to his or her craft. She offers poignant advice about how to steal time from oneself to practice an art.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    I was assigned to read this for a class, but I'm glad I read it. It is a really interesting, and eye-opening look at what it is like to be a Puerto Rican immigrant living in New Jersey. This book is an unusual mixture of short stories, poetry, and nonfiction essays by the author about her upbringing and people in her neighborhood. At only 170 pages, it is a lightweight and easy read that you won't soon forget! I was assigned to read this for a class, but I'm glad I read it. It is a really interesting, and eye-opening look at what it is like to be a Puerto Rican immigrant living in New Jersey. This book is an unusual mixture of short stories, poetry, and nonfiction essays by the author about her upbringing and people in her neighborhood. At only 170 pages, it is a lightweight and easy read that you won't soon forget!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    great mixture of poetry and prose some stories are better than others and some poems are better than others but overall i really enjoyed it...i dont know if its meant for everyone but....i think everyone should try

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ginny

    A great book every Puerto Rican woman should read! heck even those who are not Puerto Rican should read it too. So many of the short stories and poetry rings a bell to those of us and how our family think and act. A must read!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kurt

    Blew dick.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bronwen

    Great mixed genre book of growing up PR in the USA. Includes poetry, prose, and non-fiction. Beautiful language.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Youngstrom

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  15. 4 out of 5

    Chanté

    This book is really lovely, it is a collection of short stories, poetry and letters. My favorite short story is Corazon's Cafe. This book is really lovely, it is a collection of short stories, poetry and letters. My favorite short story is Corazon's Cafe.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alejandra

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mallory

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  21. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

  23. 4 out of 5

    Anne Kennedy

  24. 5 out of 5

    Alexander Law

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jen

  26. 4 out of 5

    Naomi Fedna

  27. 4 out of 5

    Keli R

  28. 4 out of 5

    Marylou

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jules

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Barnes

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