Born and raised in the Dominican Republic and now living in Puerto Rico, Rita Indiana is a driving force in contemporary Caribbean literature and music. She is the author of three collections of stories and five novels. Three of her novels have been translated into English. Papi made World Literature Today’s 2016 list of 75 Notable Translations. Tentacle, published by And Other Stories, won the Grand Prize of the Association of Caribbean Writers, the first book written in Spanish to do so.
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- Rita Indiana made her name in the Caribbean as a neo-merengue musician. You can watch some of her music videos here.
‘It is not only a book that’s new, like all of Indiana’s works, but it is a book that is, in a strict sense, good. Very good. Modernist . . . as well as classic. A Duchampian Goya, we might say.’
‘Each of her novels is marked by a concept; each is part of something larger. Made in Saturn, for example, is positioned as complement to Tentacle, and the author has announced that there will be a new novel to complete the trilogy. What unites these books is the critique of power. It is a contemporary and rebellious art, ready to fight.’
‘Rita Indiana...is a voice with power and personality. She demonstrates it in her latest novel Made in Saturn, in which the children of all the revolutions that promised a free Latin America but ended in failure are embodied in Argenis, a character as real as he is magical.’
‘Compared to Tentacle, which drew on science fiction and were you could sense the influence of Lovecraft, Made in Saturn practises a kind of scathing hyperrealism in a Caribbean setting weighed down with corruption, ideological ruin and outrageous consumption.’
‘Through her stark portrait of the protagonist and her unmistakably Caribbean prose, Rita Indiana shows why she is one of the most attractive voices in Latin American literature today’
Alexandra Gonzenbach Perkins
‘Alcide is a queer world unto himself. He travels through the history of the Dominican Republic, revealing its queer foundations while challenging the notion that time and space are static, unchanging categories.’
Times Literary Supplement
'Tentacle is as strange and beautiful a sea-change as its epigraph from The Tempest suggests … Achy Obejas brings the volume to English language readers with a social burja-cyborg flare - at once witchy, almost shamanisitically intuitive about the nature of language, and yet precise.'
Los Angeles Review of Books
'Tentacle is not a book that produces catharsis. It is the opposite. It is a book that demands reflection from its reader and then, hopefully, action. [...] The cruelty of the past is also that of the present — a reality ensured by those who cling to power and its many cloaks: white supremacy, misogyny, and transphobia. If the future is to be different, it will be up to the marginalized and to those who are willing to disinvest in privilege. Our planet’s future rests quite literally, the novel suggests, with the fate of the oppressed.'
Chicago Review of Books
'From beginning to end, Tentacle is a strange, unnerving, and at times beautiful book that critiques global inequality and the politicization of climate change.'
Words Without Borders
'Where to begin? Rita Indiana’s Tentacle has the settings, themes, and expansiveness of a much larger book, but it blends that ambition with a host of irreverence (along with some nods to the music of Giorgio Moroder, which is never a bad thing). It’s a time-travel story, a meditation on gender and sexuality, and an art-world satire—as well as, arguably, a satire of ‘chosen one’ narrative tropes. To say that this is unlike anything else you’ll read this year is probably stating the obvious.'
‘Tentacle shapeshifts dizzyingly around three time spans and a loosely connected group of characters, and takes on huge themes, including race and gender, the impact of tourism, apocalyptic events and ecological disaster. [...] Whether we would really want to change the past, given the opportunity, is one question posed in this blast of a novel; what it is to act beyond self-interest is another. Tentacle reads like Kathy Acker with a tighter narrative grip.’
Los Angeles Review of Books
‘Tentacle reaches back and forward through the ages, harnessing the fluidity of time, gender, and the natural world to reflect on colonial history and imagine a deeply disturbing future. [...] Obejas’s English version certainly captures some of that vernacular feel, mobilising US slang as well as Spanish syntax and vocabulary, reminding readers that while this is a story with a global vision, it has a Caribbean setting.’
‘An electric novel with a big appetite and a brave vision.’
'This novel takes on big themes - gender, poverty, ecology, colonialism – without being weighed down by them. The plot is fast and furious, though complicated by three time zones, and her storytelling is powerful, with plenty of punk spirit.'
Booksellers on Tentacle
'A fasten-your-seat-belt, strap-on-your-crash-helmet novel of magic, time travel, art, buccaneers, ecological disaster, and more. Unlike any dystopian novel you've read, Indiana pushes and stretches the form like an octopus working its way through a maze to pose fundamental questions about gender, identity, and society. This book should make Rita Indiana a literary superstar.' Josh Cook from Porter Square Books "Tentacle is an electric tropical sci-fi from one of the Dominican's best writers. Absolutely thrilling, this fast-paced novel encompasses themes of magic, time travel, environmentalism, and more. What seems like a humble book on the outside is, in fact, an explosion of philosophical thought, stunning writing, and expert storytelling. Rita Indiana will be staying on my radar!" Laura Graveline from Brazos Bookstore "A fast-paced post-eco-apocalyptic dystopia like nothing you've ever read before. Rita Indiana is a masterful storyteller and philosopher and weaves interrogations of everything from colonialism and contemporary art to queer politics and Yoruba ritual into a gripping race to prevent nuclear destruction of the oceans. I finished this book, took a 24hr pause, and read it again." Alex Neff from A Room of One's Own Bookstore
‘Indiana is truly a renaissance woman. Not only is she one of the most exciting Dominican authors in recent years, she is also a musical force to be reckoned with . . . She’s one of those rare artists whose music you can either dance to or sit down and listen to as if it were a great novel.’
‘A great novel. There’s so much in it: the history of the Dominican Republic, politics and of course religion. Music is referenced, and biology, conservationism too, and it’s full of wit, thanks to the way Rita Indiana tells it.’
‘Rita Indiana is comfortable with the language of modern technology, but her joy in storytelling, the effervescence of her imagination, and the way she wraps stories within stories are all firmly part of a Latin American tradition: TENTACLE recalls important works from the sixties like Gabriel García Márquez’s ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE.’
El País on Papi
‘Reads like an extended song . . . So fast-paced that it must be swallowed whole, for setting it aside is as dangerous as jumping from a speeding motorcycle.’
‘Merengue star Indiana knows how to get things dancing. Her literary tricks come from the oral traditions of voodoo and Santería. Many of TENTACLE’s characters are reincarnations of earlier lives and linked to those lives. In this way she infects the visible world with the invisible world.’
Judith von Sternburg
‘Rita Indiana is unclassifiable. TENTACLE is a kind of pulp fiction for the educated classes, a wild but carefully conceived combination of sci-fi adventure, art-world-cum-hipster-satire, eco- and socially-aware thriller, with a work of Caribbean studies breaking in from the side. It works. The tone is cool and nonchalant. The characters achieve that; the author never intrudes between them and us ... When the dénouement comes it is brutal and irresistibly attractive.’
‘Rita Indiana is fearless and brilliant and TENTACLE is her finest novel, an unforgettable experience.’