On behalf of the Awards Committee of the Canadian Association for American Studies, I am pleased to announce that the winner of this year’s Robert K. Martin Prize for Best Book is Dr. Albert Sergio Laguna (Yale), for Diversión: Play and Popular Culture in Cuban America (New York University Press, 2017). Laguna’s work examines the importance of ludic forms of sociability in 20th– and 21st-century Cuban American culture. His fascinating analysis of diversión in a wide archive of cultural works (including stand-up comedy, print culture, and social media) explores how members of the Cuban American community use forms of humour to work through feelings of loss, articulate political critiques, and consolidate a Cuban exile identity. In the words of one reader, “Laguna’s exploration of Cuban comedy conveys the specificity and richness of its subject at the same time as it theorizes humour more broadly, in relation to nostalgia[,] pleasure… and performance. In other words, Laguna’s reader is rewarded with a laser-sharp focus upon a significant topic and a model of reading humour across an archive of objects and media.” The committee wishes to congratulate Laguna for this meticulous and highly engaging contribution to American studies, Latino/a studies, and transnational studies.
The Robert K. Martin prize is awarded annually to the best book published in American Studies published in the previous year. This year’s Awards Committee is chaired by Professor Alyssa MacLean (Western University). Thank you to Alyssa and the members of the committee for choosing our winner from a field of excellent books.
–Adam Beardsworth, CAAS VP (Memorial University, Grenfell Campus)