Nuyorican Dreams: Ernesto Quiñonez Weighs In

Ecuadorian-born writer Ernesto Quiñonez’s explosive debut novel is a tribute to a little corner of New York known as “El Barrio:” home to a vibrant immigrant culture of Latinx people, and the birthplace of the Nuyorican movement.

That night, Julio has a dream in which Bodega knocks on the door and leads Julio to the window. Outside, Spanish Harlem is thriving. The streets are full of murals depicting Bodega’s image. People are optimistic and happy, and they believe—perhaps for the first time ever—that change is possible. 

Erum Naqvi for LitCharts

Ernesto Quiñonez was born in Ecuador. His parents immigrated to the United States when he was 18 months old, and he was raised in Spanish Harlem. Critics hailed his debut novel, Bodega Dreams, as an instant classic for its vivid description of Spanish Harlem’s turbulent street life and its nuanced exploration of Latinx immigrant oppression. Quiñonez was inspired by Latinx immigrant writers who came before him, especially those associated with the Nuyorican movement: immigrant writers of Puerto Rican origins exploring their identity as New Yorkers, including legendary lyric poets Pedro Pietri and Julia de Burgos.