Date of Award
Master of Arts in Professional Writing (MAPW)
Mr. Anthony Grooms
Dr. Christopher Palmer
An excerpt of a multi-generational, bilingual manuscript, La Bodega: Junior’s Story follows the protagonist, Luis Rodriguez Junior, in the aftermath of his father’s death while serving with the 65th Infantry (Borinqueneers) in Korea. “Junior” must then navigate childhood in the rough Bronx, New York streets during the 1950s and 1960s aided by his best friend, Rafael “Raffy” Morales. Still grieving the tragic loss of her husband in the Korean War, Luis’ mother Delores becomes overly protective of their only son, who carries the valued surname and legacy of the family for future generations. Tensions rise as she continually pressures Junior to take over the family bodega business after successfully completing college. However, Luis secretly longs to be a musician after receiving music training from a surrogate grandfather and does not share his mother’s dreams. Due to the unintended consequences of a close lifelong friendship with Rafael, Junior’s burgeoning music career is derailed on the night of his big break. In order to remedy the situation, Luis makes a life-altering decision to join the United States Army during the height of the Vietnam War. This historical fiction novel leans heavily on a literary technique called personification to give the bodega, who also serves as a narrator, a distinctly Puerto Rican voice.
Available for download on Monday, April 20, 2071