''United States of Banana'' is a 2011 postcolonial dramatic fiction book by the Puerto Rican poet Giannina Braschi. "United States of Banana" is a mixed-genre work which blends experimental theater, prose poetry, and essay with a manifesto on democracy and American power in the post–September 11 world. The book narrates the author's violent displacement from her home in the Battery Park neighborhood that became known as Ground Zero on September 11, 2001 where she had moved earlier that year to study the Statue of Liberty.
This fantastical and philosophical epic tackles American politics of empire and independence, the post-9/11 psyche, and the migrant's experience of marginality and liberation. The work explores the cultural and political journey of the nearly 50 million Hispanic-Americans living in the United States.
Latin American immigrants receive American passports, iconic literary characters such as Hamlet, Segismundo, and Zarathustra co-mingle with 21st Century literary and political figures, and Puerto Rico is declared a free state.〔 The theme is less about the oppressive legacy of colonialism, as the challenge to independence "constituted by the hegemony of world capitalism on which the narrator tries to persuade her fellow travelers to declare war".〔http://ebc.revues.org/1279〕
The work provides a scathing critique of the false promise of meritocracy within the American Dream.
==Part One: Ground Zero==
"Banks are the temples of America. This is a holy war. Our economy is our religion," writes Braschi in the opening chapter entitled, "Death of the Businessman." Part One—entitled "Ground Zero"—offers a poetic critique of 21st century capitalism and corporate censorship as it depicts New York City as "the Darwinist capital of the capitalist word" and the U.S. imperialism as doomed as "a chicken with its head cut off". The work unfolds through a reality-based, graphic collection of metafiction, short stories and lyrical essays on American culture since the collapse of the World Trade Center due to the September 11th terrorist attacks. Themes of artistic inspiration, spirituality, and creation are framed within scenes of mass destruction and obliteration. Narrated as an apocalypse,〔Evergreen Review Issue #128, Daniela Daniele's Review of United States of Banana, New York, November 1, 2011〕 the opening lines deliver the book's first taste of sustained black humor:
It's the end of the world. I was excited by the whole situation. Well, if everybody is going to die, die hard, shit, but what do I know. Is this an atomic bomb—the end of the world—the end of the millennium? No more fear of being fired—for typos or tardiness—digressions or recessions—and what a way of being fired—bursting into flames—without two weeks notice—and without six months of unemployment—and without sick leave, vacation, or comp time—without a word of what was to come—on a glorious morning—when nature ran indifferent to the course of man—there came a point when that sunny sky turned into a hellhole of a night—with papers, computers, windows, bricks, bodies falling, and people running and screaming''.
The subsequent chapters catalogue the gory remains of the Twin Towers in the form of scattered body parts: the torso of a businessmen falling through the air in his bright white shirt, two severed hands nearly touching like the hand of man and the hand of God in Michelangelo's Creation of Man on the Sistine Chapel, and a head crowned by glazed donuts on the floor of Krispy Kreme.
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