Aguanile- Amina Gautier


Dr. Amina Gautier is an award-winning academic and Afro-Boricua writer. She is the author of four short story collections, many individual stories, and works of literary criticism.

Now We Will Be Happy is a prize-winning collection of stories about Afro-Puerto Ricans, U.S.-born Puerto Ricans, and displaced native Puerto Ricans living between spaces while attempting to navigate the unique culture that defines Puerto Rican identity. Amina Gautier’s characters deal with the difficulties of bicultural identities in a world that wants them to choose only one.

Songs are prominently featured in many of the stories in the collection. The music alluded to in various stories also reflects the experiences of native Puerto Ricans, Nuyoricans, and Afro-Puerto Ricans, directly or indirectly.

The short story “Aguanile” uses the song by Héctor Lavoe and Willie Colón of the same title to portray the emotional ties and fractures of a Puerto Rican family spread out between NY and Puerto Rico. Gautier explores the possibilities of intergenerational bonding, troubled masculinities, the failures of (grand)father figures, and the importance of Afro-Caribbean music (Salsa) as a grounding cultural phenomenon for Puerto Ricans in the US and the archipelago.

Héctor Lavoe, (born Héctor Juan Pérez Martínez) was a Puerto Rican salsa singer. Lavoe is considered to be possibly the best and most crucial singer and interpreter in the history of salsa music because he helped to establish the popularity of this musical genre in the decades of 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. His personality, style, and the qualities of his voice led him to a successful artistic career in the whole field of Latin music and salsa during the 1970s and 1980s. The clearness and brightness of his voice, impeccable diction, and the ability to sing long and fast phrases with total naturalness made him one of the favorite singers of the Latin public.

Hector Lavoe y Willie Colon – Aguanile [PBS Studios, NYC (1972)]

What is the role of this song within the short story? (14-15)



Zapata,Kaylen Melanie

Discussion Questions

.Examine how mourning for salseros brings into perspective the cultural losses of previous Puerto Rican generations and issues of memory and preservation.

.Beyond being a beloved salsero, what do you think Héctor Lavoe represents in the story? Why is he at the center of the remembrance process?

.How Amina Gautier problematizes the unstable transnational practices of Puerto Ricans?

Analytical Work in Duos

Pick ONE of the following series of interconnected topics and expand on how the story engages with and sheds light on them

.diasporic longings and family fractures

.Puerto Rican “vaivén” culture (back and forth/transnational)

.Salsa as an embodiment of Puerto Rican culture and masculinity

.dissapearing Puerto Rican cultures

.parenthood, traditional gender roles, and aging

The Shift Towards R&B

“Bills, Bills, Bills”– Destiny’s Child

What is the role of this song within the short story? (Page 10)

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