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SX Salon


For more than three decades, critics of Ana Lydia Vega’s 1982 short story “Encancaranublado” (“Three Men and a Boat”) have wrestled with the question of the boat at the center of the tale. Often, discussions contemplate whether the Caribbean protagonists—male migrants fleeing adverse economic and political conditions in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba—can most aptly be sited in “the same boat,” geopolitically speaking; not in the same boat; or in an indeterminate imagined space somewhere in between. Critical interpretations situate the story in comparative political, consumerist, and literary ­cultural terms: for example, Johanna Emmanuelli-­Huertas links “Encancaranublado” with the broad hemispheric vision expressed in José Martí’s Nuestra América, while Magda Graniela underlines the semiotic difference between the boat people featured in the story and the omnipresent pleasure cruise boats that became popular in the 1980s.Others address the burlesque aspects of Vega’s text, along with chaos and cultural flows in the narrative. Pointing to the story’s conclusion, wherein the imperiled protagonists are debatably “rescued” by a racist US Coast Guard official and his Puerto Rican helper, Josefa Lago­-Graña submits that “Encancaranublado” primarily deals with Puerto Rico’s ambiguous status vis-­à-­vis the United States. Indeed, most scholars emphasize the story’s ironic ending and the issue of Pan­-Caribbean identity. The narrative’s beginning, anchored in a Haitian frame, is less explicitly discussed.


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