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Summary

Shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2020. 

A poignant and nuanced portrait of a Dominican teenager's arranged marriage and immigration to New York City in the 1960s.

Fifteen-year-old Ana Canción never dreamed of moving to America, the way the girls she grew up with in the Dominican countryside did. But when Juan Ruiz proposes and promises to take her to New York City, she must say yes. It doesn't matter that he is twice her age, that there is no love between them. Their marriage is an opportunity for her entire close-knit family to eventually immigrate. So on New Year's Day, 1965, Ana leaves behind everything she knows and becomes Ana Ruiz, a wife confined to a cold six-floor walk-up in Washington Heights. Lonely and miserable, Ana hatches a reckless plan to escape. But at the bus terminal, she is stopped by César, Juan's free-spirited younger brother, who convinces her to stay.

As the Dominican Republic slides into political turmoil, Juan returns to protect his family's assets, leaving César to take care of Ana. Suddenly, Ana is free to take English lessons at a local church, lie on the beach at Coney Island, dance with César at the Audubon Ballroom and imagine the possibility of a different kind of life in America. When Juan returns, Ana must decide once again between her heart and her duty to her family.

In bright, musical prose that reflects the energy of New York City, Dominicana is a vital portrait of the immigrant experience and the timeless coming-of-age story of a young woman finding her voice in the world.

This audiobook includes an exclusive interview between author Angie Cruz and narrator Coral Peña.

©2019 Angie Cruz (P)2019 Macmillan Audio

Critic reviews

"A thrilling, necessary, and unforgettable portrait of what it means to be an immigrant." (Patricia Engel)

"Dominicana is beautiful, engaging, and cuts right to the heart of what it is to be a dutiful young female from a poor country who is bright in every sense of the word, full of love and hope." (Mary Gaitskill)

"An intimate portrait of the transactional nature of marriage and the economics of both womanhood and citizenship." (New York Times Book Review)

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So great

The performance was outstanding
But the story itself was so moving and it touched upon so many important subjects. I also loved the context of the 60s in New York it added a nice touch

2 people found this helpful

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Ana-banana forever

Raced through this - incredible storytelling by writer and performer, rich characters and an intensely compelling plot.

2 people found this helpful

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Great novel, narration was lacking

I've managed to enjoy the novel despite being quite irritated by the narrator's reading style - she has a lovely, sexy voice but reads everything like it's the most intense slam poetry so the parts when the main character is cooking a meal is equal to when she's making the most crucial life decision. Maybe get a paperback instead.

2 people found this helpful

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Entertaining

Great insight into immigrant life in New York. Reminded me of Behold The Dreamers. Well read too.

2 people found this helpful

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A wonderful read

I read this book not knowing much about Dominican culture or their experiences in the US, but this was such an engrossing and delightful read. The narrator did a great job of transporting you into the story with her voice. This is long listed for the Man Booker prize I hope it ends us on the shortlist as it deserves to be read widely.

2 people found this helpful

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Spoiled by narration.

the voice was great, credible, but speed of narration spoiled the book.Somehow,an unsatifactory listen, but it had me listening to the end!

2 people found this helpful

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Just not very good

Really disappointed with this book. The story of a young girl migrating to America with a man she doesn’t care for has a lot of potential, but this falls entirely flat. Hugely off putting aspects for me:

1. The protagonist is underage (15) yet she has a romance with an adult man, with very descriptive sex scenes. This is grooming and completely inappropriate to glamourise. What you’re writing about is effectively child p*rn, yet when the partner is the man she does like this is never ever reflected upon and is fine somehow??

2. Any book that needs to rely on extremely protracted and graphic r*pe scenes in order to introduce drama into the plot is trash in my eyes. The author again sexualises the assault, focusing on details such as the victim’s arousal. Extremely distasteful and irresponsible for younger readers / trauma survivors.

3. The domestic violence is included to provide drama in an equally thoughtless and ill researched manner. Ana is protected from domestic violence because of her pregnancy. It is well documented that domestic violence increases during pregnancy, and a woman is most at risk when leaving her husband or pregnant. Her husband chokes her at one point of the book, which is a huge risk factor increasing the likelihood of being killed by your husband. Despite this his domestic violence remains an on-again off
-again character quirk, with no examination of the seriousness of his offences. He is at large still considered to be a decent guy.

On top of this the story just wasn’t that engaging. The romances went nowhere. The mum was a cow until Ana was basically on death’s door. We didn’t find out how her English lessons progressed. We didn’t find out if she continued with / succeeded with a catering business. She hasn’t even left her husband by the end of the book. I was genuinely shocked when the book ended, it felt mid-chapter.

To conclude, extremely uninspiring.

1 person found this helpful

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Page Turner... Addictive... Thoroughly enjoyable

Addictive. I couldn't put the book down so to speak. The story speaks to a struggle of a young girl / woman born in Dominican Republic and her move to New York. Her relationships with a myriad of people, her communities both in New York and back home, and trajectory through the struggles life. A beautiful book. One I thoroughly enjoyed.

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Great book

I love the insight into other immigrant life in another country and how they view the people around them.
Isn’t it strange how all nationals that have a light skin colour look down on people that is much darker than theirs. This book is a great telling of a lot of men and women that leave a poor country to a much richer one to realise that what they see on tv or others have said are nothing like what they really have to go through . Well done Angie Cruz

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Simply powerful

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. There are so many nuances and the story development was incredible.