By Luis Negron, Translated by Suzanne Jill Levine
Seven Stories Press, $13.95, 91 pages
At the simplest level, Luis Negrón’s collection, Mundo Cruel, joins nine stories that examine homosexuality in Puerto Rico. But within a mere 91 pages, Negrón – and Suzanne Jill Levine, through her beautiful translation work – proves his mastery of both the subject matter and written narrative by using many contrasting approaches: maximizing stylistic forms through his use of the short story, the monologue, letter-writing and even scene study; examining family dynamics from the perspectives of son, brother, mother and sister; blatantly partaking in the parading of gay culture as well as intimately exposing the underground scene; and arousing reader sympathy with the disgusting injustice and discrimination suffered by the gay community while also admitting the double standards that create problematic relationships with the straight community. Negrón trusts his readers and their desire for an expanded worldview, and he delivers on this trust by showing incredible attention to detail and by compelling each voice within his stories to speak to readers’ capacity for compassion and critical thought.
Reviewed by Kaylan Isenberg