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SUNY Plattsburgh Professor Releases Debut Novel

SUNY Plattsburgh Professor of English and Latin American Studies J.L. Torres will read from his new novel, “Accidental Native,” from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8, in Hawkins Hall’s Krinovitz Recital Hall. A 7:30 p.m. reception will follow at the North Country Cultural Center for the Arts, 23 Brinkerhoff St. Both events are free and open to the public.

“Accidental Native” tells the story of Rennie, a second generation Puerto Rican living in New York City, who returns to Puerto Rico to bury his parents. He discovers that his biological mother is actually a high-powered attorney named Julia, who, by offering him a teaching job, convinces Rennie to move to Puerto Rico. There, he must confront myriad challenges, including Julia’s strong-willed nature; squatters living in the house he inherited; a lover anxious to settle down; students frequently on strike; and a department chair not thrilled to have a Nuyorican (a Puerto Rican raised in New York City) on staff. Most disturbing is the rumor that numerous faculty and staff are dying from cancer because the campus, a former U.S. military base, is full of buried munitions.

The Booklist Starred Review praised Torres’ novel, saying that “Torres does capture the conflicts and challenges Puerto Ricans experience when returning to their homeland, but he reaches beyond the specific to the universal, illuminating the lives and feelings of any second-generation American in a similar situation.”

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