The gritty city : representations of male youth in the works of Ferréz, Sacolinha, Junot Díaz and Ernesto Quiñonez



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This dissertation examines the ways in which Ferréz Sacolinha, Junot Díaz and Ernesto Quiñonez negotiate the global subordination of diasporic subjects in São Paulo and New York. Through a street aesthetic of the urban underworld, these four writers explore social inequalities tied to race and social class in the urban periphery. In São Paulo, Ferréz and Sacolinha use the public transit system to examine the contained mobility of residents of the periferia. Through encounters with criminality, Ferréz critiques the image of the criminoso associated with the marginal space of the periferia. Sacolinha analyzes systemic inequalities through the cobrador's use of the perua, which functions as a subversive tactic against governmental organizations. In New York, Junot Díaz and Ernesto Quiñonez address the marginalization of urban Latino youth on the streets of the inner city. Díaz complicates the fractured identity of Dominican American youth who experience stigma in relation to the U.S.'s black-white racial binary. By dissecting the relationship between crime and hegemonic social structures, Quiñonez traces Spanish Harlem residents' colonized, racialized status as Puerto Ricans in New York. In the literary works of the four authors, young protagonists roam the streets, maintaining a macho demeanor to conceal their insecurities and to appear to others -- and more importantly to themselves -- as tough individuals who will not crack under pressure. The aggressive, fearless attitude that they embody allows them to survive the inner city streets. They face an endless cycle of suspicion, racial discrimination and lack of resources, which limits their chances for social mobility.