In J. L. Torres’s second story collection Migrations, the inaugural winner of the Tomás Rivera Book Prize, a “sucio” goes to an underground clinic for therapy to end his machista ways and is accidentally transitioned. Ex-gangbangers gone straight deal with a troubled, gifted son drawn to the gangsta lifestyle promoted by an emerging music called hip-hop. Dead and stuck “between somewhere and nowhere,” Roberto Clemente, the great Puerto Rican baseball icon, soon confronts the reason for his predicament. These stories take us inside the lives of self-exiles, unhomed and unhinged people, estranged from loved ones, family, culture, and collective history. Despite the effects of colonization of the body and mind, Puerto Ricans have survived beyond geography and form an integral part of the American mosaic.
Rennie Falto moves to Puerto Rico, a place and culture unknown to him, to reconnect with his biological mother. Julia is beautiful, elegant, and a high-powered attorney determined to reclaim the son she gave up many years before. Once there, he must deal with Julia’s strong-willed nature, a department chair not thrilled with a Nuyorican on staff, squatters in the house he inherited, students frequently on strike, and a thirtysomething lover anxious to settle down. Most disturbing is that faculty and staff may be dying from cancer because the campus is a former U.S. military base where toxic munitions have been buried. Rennie soon finds himself working to expose the government’s lies, though he risks losing his job, his home and even the woman he loves.More info →
In this stirring collection of eleven stories, J.L. Torres crafts deft reflections of Puerto Ricans living on the mainland. A son who follows his father's wish to be buried in his beloved isla but can't seem to meet his father's other wish to not be covered with the American flag, a right he has as a veteran of World War II and Korea. A Nuyorican visiting his aunt in Cayey is fascinated with a run-down shack where a mysterious woman lives, surrounded by conflicting stories about her life and loves. In the Bronx, Ralph and Lou are unnerved by a spooky sight: eight red kerchiefs tied equidistantly apart on a cyclone fence. In the story "A Natural Thing," Eric and Monica's lovemaking is interrupted by an odd sound. He's mortified when he sees what has entered the room: A full-grown rooster, its wattles cut, the feathers trimmed except the wings; its legs plucked to pimpled skin, strutting and bobbing its head like it owned the place. Instantly, Eric realizes that Don Epifanio has converted the basement into a cock-fighting ring. Torres' characters reveal the circumstances that shape their lives in these thought-provoking stories that explore machismo, family relationships, love, and even santeria.More info →
In Boricua Passport, J.L. Torres guides his reader through a morphing homeland; from paradise to housing projects, from sand-filled island beaches to summer tarred city rooftops. The scape of the land he calls home mutates before your eyes...Grief caused by family separation, the horrific life of slavery, the brutal working life in the fields, the alienation of one's identity, is transformed anew with vitality and pride...
--Nancy Mercado, Writer and Editor
"Writing Off the Hyphen offers depth and insight on the theory and critical approaches for understanding the complexity of the Puerto Rican diaspora from a broad range of perspectives. It covers a variety of topics and serves as a starting point for critical discussions on Puerto Rican literature from a historical and literary standpoint. This volume belongs in all academic library collections. It is a key resource for Puerto Rican literature and culture courses, and for understanding Puerto Rican diasporic literature."―Multicultural ReviewMore info →