The Latin Deli: An Ars Poetica

by Judith Ortiz Cofer

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Critical Overview

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Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 188

Judith Ortiz Cofer first published ''The Latin Deli: An Ars Poetica'' in Americas Review in 1992 and in 1993 in a collection of poems, short stories, and personal essays titled The Latin Deli. The work received overwhelmingly positive critical reviews. A reviewer in Booklist writes that Ortiz Cofer's collection of her stories, essays, and poems is a "delicious smorgasbord of the sights, smells, tastes, and sounds recalled from a cross-cultural girlhood. Whether delineating the yearnings for an island homeland or the frustrations of a first-generation immigrant's struggles to grow up in 'el building' in a New Jersey barrio, Ortiz Cofer's work is rich in evocative detail and universal concerns." A reviewer in Kirkus Reviews finds the book "a remarkably cohesive, moving collection—a tribute both to Cofer's considerable talent and her heritage." Kenneth Wishnia, in his Melus article, focuses on themes present in the poem. He notes that Ortiz Cofer "works with many themes that are common to ethnic-American literature, for example, the feeling of being in exile in a strange land, where the sound of Spoken Spanish is so comforting that even a grocery list reads 'like poetry.'"

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Essays and Criticism