From USA to Mexico – Tropic of Orange by Karen Tei Yamashita

Helloo everyone and welcome back to #alexjostories! Since exams are coming soon and I am all over the place with the novels I have to read, today I want to talk to you about ‘Tropic of Orange’ by Karen Tei Yamashita. I have prepared for you a tone of articles about interesting books that I have to read so be ready for them. ‘Tropic of Orange’ is a magical realist novel that is connected to the tropic of cancer and the events related to the positionality of black people in the American society.

So, before everything I want to talk to you about the historical context behind the novel. In 1991 there was a police incident with Rodney King, a black man. He spent a night with his friends watching baseball, but the next morning, the police noticed his car speeding and persecuted him after stopping him for speeding. The Los Angeles Police Department held King at gunpoint. There is also a connection to NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement). This is a document that connects the free trade market between North America, Mexico, and Canada. Also, the OJ Simpson case plays a small part in the book, but there is a connection to it by the juice of the orange. I loved this connection because it is so smart and subtle at the same time. OJ Simpson was called the juice by his friends and family.

The entire novel is just like a puzzle. Karen Tei Yamashita constructed seven characters with different backgrounds and cultures that at a certain point in the book interact with one another. From the beginning of the novel, the author guides you towards various possibilities to read the book. There is a table with each chapter and with each character and the correspondence between them. So, if you prefer to read the book by characters and not by the way the novel is arranged you could certainly do that.

To be honest, this book is not one of my favorites. I mean the elements in it and the way the author combines them are not my cup of tea. For example, there is this character named Murakami a Japanese American and he can control the traffic on the highways. Another example from the book is the fact that the orange has some kind of supernatural powers. It’s an orange, guys! What are we talking about now? Anyway, Tropic of Orange is a magical realist text so I guess these are the elements that define it as a magical realist novel. The fact that the author chose to combine so many things with seven different characters is really clever and something that I haven’t encountered before in novels. Tropic of Orange was published in 1997.

Throughout the plot of the novel, you take various trips from Los Angeles to Mexico. There are also various elements included in the text that make it a bit creepy such as organ trading mafia and the disruption of neighborhoods in the city of LA. These aspects make the book a bit sad if you ask me. The book concerns various themes such as race, gender, culture inclusion in the society, supernatural elements. I do encourage every one of you to read this book because it is a different approach towards fiction, but in my point of view, it’s not the best book ever. Do read it guys and let me know what you think about it.

Here we have it guys! Tropic of Orange by Karen Tei Yamashita. I hope this article made you a little bit curious about this book and you’ll start reading it right away. I am back in Canterbury, partly learning for my exams. Haha! I still have plenty of time. I feel so much more productive here than in Bucharest. When I am in Bucharest I feel really lazy. I guess because I know I am on my holiday. Anyway, we are getting back in business so get ready for exciting articles.

I’ll #seeyousoon, everyone!

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