The United States of Mestizo is a powerful manifesto attesting to the fundamental changes the nation has undergone in the last half-century. Writer Ilan Stavans meditates on how the cross-fertilizing process that defined the Americas during the colonial period-the racial melding of Europeans and indigenous peoples-foretells the miscegenation that is the most salient profile of America today. If, as W.E.B. DuBois once argued, the twentieth century was defined by a color fracture at its core, Stavans believes the twenty-first will be shaped by a multi-color line that will make us all a sum of parts.
It is difficult to think of a more provocative and simultaneously appropriate essay on the ethnic and racial future of the world. Stavans has hit the nail on the head, and he has done it with lucidity and verve. No one interested in the future should miss it.
—Jorge J. E. Gracia, Samuel P. Capen Chair and SUNY Distinguished Professor, University at Buffalo
If anyone can write a flash history of the Americas from pre-Columbian to the present, it's Ilan Stavans. With his trademark wit and intellect, Stavans sweeps us swiftly along through a full history of the way biological and cultural mixtures have shaped the Americas and beyond. We travel with him through time, learning of very real instances of mixed-race or mestizo resistance to fantasies of racial purity. Not since The Brief History of Time
have I learned so much in so few pages. As Stavans brilliantly shows, the Latino America no longer hold proprietary ownership over the mestizo and mestizaje. It's gone global.
—Frederick Luis Aldama, Arts & Humanities Distinguished Professor, author of The Routledge Concise History of Latino/a Literature
I absolutely agree with this book's premise-that we are all a sum of its parts, that is, the identity of America. Mr. Stavans is an alchemist re-working our generic names, or how we see ourselves. He adds new insight to the shop-worn labels and morphs them into larger, more distinct blossoms that add new fragrance and color and texture to our already complex natures, personally and socially. Bravo Mr. Stavans, for clarifying the muddled blur of names and labels-a timely book for all seeking understanding of our cultural roots, of each other, and the future.
—Jimmy Santiago Baca, author of A Glass of Water and The Lucia Poems
Ilan Stavans must be fueled by an implanted nuclear reactor. He tirelessly creates brilliant works, and this work is one of his most rewarding. Stavans does no less than further the work begun by Octavio Paz in his epochal Labyrinth of Solitude.
Wise and bracing.
—Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The Hummingbird's Daughter and Queen of America
Stavans takes half a millennia, its thinkers, revolutions, social movements, artists, poets, the image molding quirks of mass culture-and the people in their explosive, creative world whirl and tackles, perhaps, one of the biggest trends of our time-the "Mestizo" tsunami ... Only Ilan Stavans could write this-he himself is one of our major voices of el nuevo mestizaje, the new rising hybrid reality. A required read for each and everyone before it is too late. Before we fall back to that old violent idea of racial purity. ¡A heart-pounding Bravissimo!
—Juan Felipe Herrera, Poet Laureate of California
As a literary scholar and translator, editor and anthologist, social commentator and essayist, Ilan Stavans is not only prolific and engaging but indispensable. This new book, brief but essential to our discussion of racial integration, requires a close reading, particularly among the third generation of Mexican Americans, who, like me, still search for their place in this country. Like a poem, The United States of Mestizo
should be read many times.
—Gary Soto, poet and essayist
Ilan Stavans has given us yet another great contribution from his insightful pen: he has turned an ambiguous term, mestizo, into a powerful concept to understand a new dimension of the human experience, giving us at the same time a lively overview of the intellectual history of the hemisphere.
—Iván Jaksic, Stanford University