Cruz explores the nexus of Islamic artistic influences in Spain, Puerto Rico, and North Africa.
These poems mine the rich history and broad influence of Islam in Spain and beyond, and illuminate connections between places as diverse and far-flung as Puerto Rican villages, the bustling streets of New York, and the sun-drenched beaches of Morocco.
“A rare book that shows how pure art is the most political tool imaginable, more effective and beautiful than any weapon or social dogma buried in literary texts. . . . In this monumental and historic text Cruz shows two sides of the wandering poet. The first is the vulnerable man who has to leave family behind. The second is the collector of world experience, confronting the forces of time, memory, and culture in the sands of Africa or the jungles of the Caribbean. Cruz is an expert at drawing the reader in.”—Ray Gonzalez, The Bloomsbury Review
“Mr. Cruz’s work has extended the linguistic, historical and geographical horizons within which we think of American poetry, doing so with masterful music, intelligence and humor.” —Nathaniel Mackey
“Victor Hernández Cruz, child of Puerto Rico and Nueva York, has actually takne the journey back to a home he never inhabited but always knew, living between Morocco and his native island in the Caribbean.In the Shadow of Al-Andalus is a record of that hejira, that flight between place, memory, emotion, and history, and Cruz has created a kind of North African/Andalusian ‘jíbarismo,’ pronouncing again the values of the traditional, hard-working Puerto Rican whose currency is common sense. But this trip has little to do with nostalgia; it is, rather, the embarkation of a process of discovery, of coming to know the world, and the substance of our human inheritance.” —Ammiel Alcalay
“[I]t is at the interstice of imagination and memory that In the Shadow of Al-Andalus lives and breathes. The poems came out of the author’s personal quest for a written history that reflects his intricate cultural identity and yet, they come to represent the expatriate’s cry, the exile’s song, and the descendant’s lullaby that echo over centuries.” —Phati’tude Literary Magazine