by Roberto Fernández
Published: June 30, 1995
Bind: Trade Paperback
A host of memorable and wacky characters populate this satire of Cuban immigrant life. Lisander, the poet laureate, trades the golden laurel crown of yesteryear for a career as a rock musician. Dina, once the squirrel-costumed prostitute of Marina’s zoological luxury brothel, is now the mistress of the radish processing plant. Nelson goes nuts for the squirrel and Bernabé poses as a Nazi concentration camp survivor. The civic leaders who resort to the wilderness of Lake Okeechobess spend their days planning the liberation of their homeland while their wives toil in the radish plant and find consolidation in their shared memories of the Xawa Ladies Tennis Club and their canasta parties.
While Holy Radishes is a parable of the Cuban immigrant community, it is, foremost, the story of Nelly Pardo, a dreamer who envisions herself in the paradise called Mondovi, where she has an intimate relationship with Rigoletto, her truffle-loving pet pig. And it is to fulfill her dreams for a better world that she will team up with redneck ex-cheerleader Mrs. James B. III who fabricates a mythical antebellum past to rival that of the immigrants. This unlikely alliance reflects the capacity of women to endure, survive, and overcome.
“No one writes about the Cuban-American experience with more voltage, more originality and imagination, than Roberto Fernández…”—Bob Shacochis, author of Easy in the Islands, Next New World, and Swimming in the Volcano
“Holy Radishes! is a perfectly wonderful, magical book. It is by turns witty and wise, comic and tragic, in the clouds and down in the dirt. Even Dickens would be proud to have created such a cast of original and memorable characters. And not even Disney could have created a pig like the unforgettable Rigoletto.”—Jesse Lee Kercheval, author of Museum of Happiness and Dogeater
“… a talented, developing writer.”—The New York Times Book Review
“… a Cuban William Burroughs.”—Publishers Weekly
ROBERTA FERNÁNDEZ is a three-time Lila Wallace resident at the Mac Dowell Colony in New Hampshire. Her book, Intaglio: A Novel in Six Stories (Arte Público Press, 1990), about the transmission of women’s cultural expression on the Texas/Mexican borderlands, was selected by Multicultural Publisher’s Exchange as Best Fiction for 1991. Fernández’s own Spanish version of Intaglio (Fronterizas: Una novela en seis cuentos) will be published by Arte Público Press in Fall 2001. Currently, she is working on another novel,which deals with present-day Mayans in Guatemala and in the United States. Her anthology, In Other Words: Literature by Latinas of the United States (Arte Público Press, 1994) includes the work of forty-five writers and represents the best examples of Latina fiction, poetry, drama, and essay. Another anthology, En nuestras palabras: Ficción y poesía de las latinas en los Estados Unidos, is forth-coming. Her work has appeared in many national and international literary reviews and anthologies. In 1991 she was named to the Texas Institute of Letters.