“Graceful, generous, and important.”
In the poem from which the book takes its title, a "woman of no-age" presides over a small store whose wares--Bustelo coffee, jamón y queso, "green plantains hanging in stalks like votive offerings"--must satisfy, however imperfectly, those who hunger for their island home. In the story "Nada," an anguished mother whose son has been killed in Vietnam refuses the consolation of her neighbors and the medals offered by the government ("Tell the Mr. President of the United States what I say: No, gracias."). Cofer's essay "The Paterson Public Library" recalls how, in books, she found refuge and solace from the outside world.
El deli latino transcends the particulars of the expatriate experience to speak universal truths about the mysteries of desire, the quest for knowledge, and the struggle to reconcile opposing selves.
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