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My Broken Language
“This memoir is a masterpiece! Hudes is a gifted storyteller and I was struck by the richness of her language, especially in a book ostensibly dedicated to its 'brokenness.' She seamlessly intertwines cultures, dialects, and slang across seemingly disparate groups — a skill honed as she grew into a Pulitzer-winning composer and playwright. Hudes commits to telling her story honestly but not tragically. She doesn’t dwell on the hardest parts of her life. Instead, she acknowledges them plainly but spends much more energy celebrating the Perez women in all their diverse, indefatigable glory. I turned the last page with enlivened understanding and fresh hope. Read it!”Holly,
GOOD MORNING AMERICA BUZZ PICK • The Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright and co-writer of In the Heights tells her lyrical story of coming of age against the backdrop of an ailing Philadelphia barrio, with her sprawling Puerto Rican family as a collective muse.
“Quiara Alegría Hudes is in her own league. Her sentences will take your breath away. How lucky we are to have her telling our stories.”—Lin-Manuel Miranda, award-winning creator of Hamilton and In the Heights
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: NPR, New York Public Library, BookPage, BookRiot
Quiara Alegría Hudes was the sharp-eyed girl on the stairs while her family danced their defiance in a tight North Philly kitchen. She was awed by her mother and aunts and cousins, but haunted by the unspoken, untold stories of the barrio—even as she tried to find her own voice in the sea of language around her, written and spoken, English and Spanish, bodies and books, Western art and sacred altars. Her family became her private pantheon, a gathering circle of powerful orisha-like women with tragic real-world wounds, and she vowed to tell their stories—but first she’d have to get off the stairs and join the dance. She’d have to find her language.
Weaving together Hudes’s love of music with the songs of her family, the lessons of North Philly with those of Yale, this is a multimythic dive into home, memory, and belonging—narrated by an obsessed girl who fought to become an artist so she could capture the world she loved in all its wild and delicate beauty.
LONGLISTED FOR THE ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL