The Book of Unknown Americans

by

Cristina Henríquez

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One of the Riveras’ new neighbors, Nelia came to the mainland from Puerto Rico in 1964 to make it big as a dancer in New York City. Frustrated by her inability to score any roles due to her ethnicity, Nelia eventually left New York for Delaware where the cost of living was cheaper and opened up a community theater of her own. She still runs the theater, and is in a relationship with a “gringo half her age.”

Nelia Zafón Quotes in The Book of Unknown Americans

The The Book of Unknown Americans quotes below are all either spoken by Nelia Zafón or refer to Nelia Zafón. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Unknown and The American Dream Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage Books edition of The Book of Unknown Americans published in 2014.
Chapter 18: Nelia Zafón Quotes

On my walk home sometimes, as I stepped back down into that cellar apartment, my eyes heavy from exhaustion, I would think, Is this what this is? This country? My life? Is this all? But even when I thought that, I was always aware of some other part of me saying, there is more. And you will find it.

Related Characters: Nelia Zafón (speaker)
Page Number: 177
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Book of Unknown Americans PDF

Nelia Zafón Character Timeline in The Book of Unknown Americans

The timeline below shows where the character Nelia Zafón appears in The Book of Unknown Americans. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: Mayor
The Unknown and The American Dream Theme Icon
Isolation vs. Community Theme Icon
...legally—their visas are sponsored by a nearby mushroom farm. Quisqueya has heard this information from Nelia Zafón, who heard it from Fito, the landlord. Celia says it will be nice to... (full context)
Chapter 7: Alma
Longing Theme Icon
Isolation vs. Community Theme Icon
Alma has received many visits from her new neighbors—Quisqueya Solís brought cookies, and Nelia Zafón and Ynez Mercado also dropped by to welcome Alma and to tell her to... (full context)
Chapter 18: Nelia Zafón
The Unknown and The American Dream Theme Icon
Longing Theme Icon
Isolation vs. Community Theme Icon
Futility, Chance, and Loss Theme Icon
Nelia Zafón was born and raised in Puerto Rico. In 1964, at the age of seventeen,... (full context)
The Unknown and The American Dream Theme Icon
Longing Theme Icon
Isolation vs. Community Theme Icon
Futility, Chance, and Loss Theme Icon
Nelia worked in a restaurant and put all her money toward dance classes. She went to... (full context)
The Unknown and The American Dream Theme Icon
Longing Theme Icon
Isolation vs. Community Theme Icon
Futility, Chance, and Loss Theme Icon
After finding out that taxes for new businesses were low in Delaware, Nelia saved money and moved out to Wilmington. There, she started a theater company of her... (full context)
Chapter 26: Mayor
The Unknown and The American Dream Theme Icon
Longing Theme Icon
Isolation vs. Community Theme Icon
Futility, Chance, and Loss Theme Icon
Quisqueya and Nelia drop by, as do Micho, José, and Benny. Everyone pieces together what they have heard... (full context)