The University of Wisconsin Press

Travel / Memoir / Puerto Rico


San Juan
Memoir of a City
Edgardo Rodríguez Juliá
Translated by Peter Grandbois
Foreword by Antonio Skármeta

The Americas
Ilan Stavans and Irene Vilar, Series Editors

An evocative, personal guide to Puerto Rico’s capital city

San Juan: Memoir of a City conducts readers through Puerto Rico’s capital, guided by one of its most graceful and reflective writers, Edgardo Rodríguez Juliá. No mere sightseeing tour, this is culture through immersion, a circuit of San Juan’s historical and intellectual vistas as well as its architecture.

In the allusive cityscape he re-creates, Rodríguez Juliá invokes the ghosts of his childhood, of San Juan’s elder literati, and of characters from his own novels. On the most tangible level, the city is a place of cabarets and cockfighting clubs, flâneurs and beach bums, smoke-filled bars and honking automobiles. Poised between a colonial past and a commercial future, the San Juan he portrays feels at times perilously close to the pitfalls of modernization. Tenement houses and fading mansions yield to strip malls and Tastee Freezes; asphalt hems in jacarandas and palm trees. “In Puerto Rico,” he muses, “life is not simply cruel, it is also busy erasing our tracks.” Through this book—available here in English for the first time—Rodríguez Juliá resists that erasure, thoughtfully etching a palimpsest that preserves images of the city where he grew up and rejoicing in the one where he still lives.

Edgardo Rodríguez Juliá teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Puerto Rico. Among his many books are La renuncia del héroe Baltasar (1974, translated into English in 1997 as The Renunciation), El entierro de Cortijo (1983, published in a bilingual edition in 2004 as Cortijo’s Wake), La noche oscura del Niño Avilés (1984), and Sol de medianoche (1999). Peter Grandbois is an assistant professor of English at California State University, Sacramento. Antonio Skármeta is the author of Il Postino.

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Cover of San Juan is a warm photo of a San Juan doorway, cream walls, white engaged pillars, old wood.

LC: 2006031485 F
192 pp. 6 x 9
10 b/w maps

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Cloth $45.00 s
ISBN 978-0-299-20370-2
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Paper $19.95 t
ISBN 978-0-299-20374-0
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Updated 9/8/2014

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