Orginal Publication Date
Ethnic Studies Review
Contemporary Portuguese American literature written by Thomas Braga (1943-), Frank Gaspar (1946-), and Katherine Vaz (1955-) share a profusion of topics - with ethnic food being, perhaps, the most representative one. What these writers have in common is that their roots can be traced to Portugal's Atlantic islands - the Azores - and not to continental Portugal. They are native Americans and write in English, though their characters and themes are Portuguese American. Some of them lived close to the former New England whaling and fishing centers of New Bedford and Nantucket, which Herman Melville has immortalized in Moby-Dick and in his short story, "The 'Gees," in The Piazza Tales. These seaports were renowned worldwide and eventually attracted Azorean harpooners. The Azorean background of Thomas Braga and Frank Gaspar helps us to understand why fish and seafood feature so extensively in their writings instead of dishes containing meat as is the case in the fiction of Katherine Vaz.
Copyright ©ESR, The National Association for Ethnic Studies, 2008