The University of Wisconsin Press

Fiction / Latino Interest

The Bonjour Gene
A Novel
J. A. Marzán
Introduction by David Huddle

“In The Bonjour Gene, poet and word man Julio Marzán displays the kind of wit and intellectual verve rarely seen in contemporary literature. With every well-crafted line and insight (about the mercurial nature of family life and identity) accumulating to wonderful effect, this is a book that will surely entertain and enlighten its readers.”
Oscar Hijuelos, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love

Approaching midlife, after rising to comfortable suburban life, Edgar Bonjour becomes involved with a drug-trafficking Puerto Rican motorcycle gang from his old neighborhood and is brought down by an affair with a woman in the gang. News of his murder leads to introspection among other members of the Puerto Rican Bonjour clan, all descended from three now nameless French brothers remembered only by their surname. Though extended generations of the Bonjours dispersed, some settling in New York, they remain connected by the shared lore of their ancestry, that starting with the three original Bonjour brothers—all rampant adulterers—every descendent Bonjour male carries a reckless, womanizing gene.

Interconnected like the Bonjour family itself, this novel is a tale of unpredictable and unforgettable characters that transports readers to a plane where ethnicity becomes universality.

“In the preface to his memorable saga of the Bonjour family, J.A. Marzán refers to the coffee of Puerto Rico ‘that Rome once decreed exclusively fit for the palate of a pope.’ In the same way, we should savor the exquisite flavor of this novel. It’s a tale told with a poet’s eye and a poet’s ear, a raconteur’s sense of humor and irony. Behind it all is the intelligent hand of a major Latino writer, whose work in this book embraces the contradictions and powerful pull of our common history, yet transcends labels and categories. May The Bonjour Gene be celebrated for the bravura performance that it is.”—Martín Espada, author of The Trouble Ball

J. A. Marzán is a poet, fiction writer, and author of the landmark The Spanish American Roots of William Carlos Williams. His fiction has appeared in journals including The Kenyon Review and the anthologies Current from the Dancing River and Iguana Dreams: New Latino Fiction. A former poet laureate of Queens, New York, he has published the books Translations without Originals and Puerta de Tierra as well as poems in, among others, Parnassus, Ploughshares, Tin House, and Harper’s Magazine.

Media & bookseller inquiries regarding review copies, events, and interviews can be directed to the publicity department at or (608) 263-0734. (If you want to examine a book for possible course use, please see our Course Books page. If you want to examine a book for possible rights licensing, please see Rights & Permissions.)


August 2013
LC: 2004012827 PS
184 pp.   6 x 9  

Book icon
Paper $18.95 t
ISBN 978-0-299-20414-3
Shopping cart ADD TO CART

“In a style that combines poetic nuances with humorous touches, Marzán adds a new dimension to our understanding of what it is to be a Latino today. The ‘Bonjour gene’ he evokes is a positive gene, a gene on the verge of a new day.”
—Rosario Ferré, author of The House on the Lagoon

Home | Books | Journals | Events | Textbooks | Authors | Related | Search | Order | Contact

If you have trouble accessing any page in this web site, contact our Web manager.

Updated 9/19/2014

© 2013 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System