Reflections on a Puerto Rican Life: Benjy Lopez: A Picaresque Tale of Emigration and Return

Hailed as a “masterpiece” in Newsweek magazine by Yale art historian Robert Ferris Thompson, the life history of Benjy Lopez is now available in an expanded edition which includes his return to and life in Puerto Rico as a successful businessman. This engaging and graceful account is a pioneering vision exposing the half-truth that the typical experience of the ordinary Puerto Rican, particularly of the Puerto Rican transposed to New York City, is exclusively defined by privation, fear, prejudice, and culture shock. In this work, Barry B. Levine successfully combats the myth of the victimized immigrant, proposing a picaresque sociology that acknowledges an actor’s agency even under the most difficult circumstances.

“This book is a classic … one hell of an insight into the sharpening of mind and spirit that results from constantly improvising under pressure in a multicultural world. Levine has pulled off a multicultural masterpiece. … Some of Benjy’s adventures run parallel to the blends of the world of New York Latino popular dance music.”
— Robert Farris Thompson, author of Tango: The Art History of Love in the preface to this edition

Barry B. Levine (Florida International Uni­versity) was for twenty years the editor of Caribbean Review, and authored several books including The Caribbean Exodus and The New Cuban Presence in the Caribbean.