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Bodega Dreams

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Ernesto Quinonez, Bodega Dreams

Chino is a smart young man working his way out of the barrio when a childhood friend pulls him into the orbit of Willie Bodega, a shadowy drug lord with dreams of revitalizing — and controlling — the streets and tenements of New York City’s Spanish Harlem. Urban Latino culture springs to life in Bodega Dreams, a debut novel rich with the sights, smells, sounds, and Spanglish dialect of the heavily Puerto Rican neighborhood Bodega rules with the help of a corrupt lawyer.

Quiñonez distills finely rendered detail and atmosphere into a plot that occasionally veers toward well-worn melodrama. Despite that — and despite the fact that Bodega is a virtual parody of the Al Pacino character in ”Scarface” — ”Dreams” announces a writer worth watching.

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