The Taste of Sugar

By Marisel Vera,

Book cover of The Taste of Sugar

Book description

Marisel Vera emerges as a major new voice in contemporary fiction with this "capacious" (The New Yorker) novel set in Puerto Rico on the eve of the Spanish-American War. Up in the mountainous region of Utuado, Vicente Vega and Valentina Sanchez labor to keep their coffee farm from the creditors.…


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Why read it?

2 authors picked The Taste of Sugar as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Through friendships with Borinqueñxs and interest in the island, I don’t consider myself wholly ignorant about Puerto Rico. Like the Philippines, Puerto Rico was claimed by the US following the Spanish American War, but once again, when I tried to learn more about that era, I ran into a brick wall. Marisel Vera recovers that history while offering all the pleasures of a traditional family saga. She brings the reader close to the daily lives and loves of a family of coffee farmers who struggle first under Spanish rule and then the system established by the US. Vera also taught…

From Diane's list on for recovering erased history.

Vera’s novel transports the reader beyond the traditional scenarios of diasporican narrative. Beginning in early 19th century Puerto Rico, it ends in Hawaii at the turn of the 20th century. The story focuses on Vicente and Valentina Vega, a couple who lose their coffee farm to Hurricane St. Ciriaco and are seduced with unkept promises of a better life in Hawaii. Vera’s unrelenting realism and faithful rendering of historical facts, melded with Valentina’s letters to her sister, give the reader an unflinching and poignant view of the hardships these hundreds of migrants to Hawaii endured. Published in 2020,…

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