Colombian-American, salsa music, novel, fiction, MFA thesis, Colombia, Latino/a Literature, Bogota, Cali, New York, Miami


This is the collection of a novel, Cuban Jam Sessions in Miniature: A Novel in Tracks, and an embedded short story, "Shred Me Like the Cheese You Use to Make Buñuelos." The novel tells the story of Palomino Mondragón, a Colombian mercenary who has arrived in New York after losing his leg to a mortar in Korea. Reclusive, obsessive and passionate, Palomino has reinvented himself as a mambo musician and has fallen in love with Etiwanda, a dancer at the nightclub in which he plays—but he cannot bring himself to declare his love to her. His life changes when he is deported from the United States at the height of the Cuban Missile crisis without having declared his love. Through the thirty years chronicled in the novel, Palomino does all possible in his quest to return to the United States to find Etiwanda despite the fact that he knows she has grown to be a fantasy, an obsession of his imagination. Palomino’s quest takes him to the United States and back three times, as he becomes more and more desperate, as he becomes involved with drug traffickers and for-hire murderers like Polo Norte, as he loses track of what it means to feel alive. Palomino is trapped in a tug-of-war between his rational desire for a normal existence and his irrational but inescapable longing for Etiwanda. In the end, his desperation to get to Etiwanda brings the underworld of Polo Norte to her doorstep. "Shred Me Like the Cheese You Use to Make Buñuelos" tells the story of Polo Norte, Palomino’s antagonist, on his last day on earth, as he is followed by a writer who has agreed to watch him commit suicide. Together, the stories explore the history and nature of the Colombian Diaspora in the United States, and the violent circumstances surrounding the relationship between both countries and the migrants stuck in the middle of it.


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Graduation Date



Rushin, Pat


Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)


College of Arts and Humanities



Degree Program

Creative Writing








Release Date

April 2010

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)