“… many Latino writers use Spanish in their work because it is an integral part of their experience.” Delia Poey and Virgil Suarez, eds. “Iguana Dreams: New Latino Fiction.”

The current Big Read title, Rudolf Anaya’s “Bless Me, Ultima,” should draw our attention to the Latin American writers of the US.  Since the 1960’s Puerto Rican – American, Dominican –American, and other writers in this genre have received more notice and more accolades.  They have won Pulitzer prizes, National Book Awards, and American Book Awards, and Hispanics will be the US’s majority population by 2050 so there is no reason to believe their literature will dwindle in popularity or quality.

One cannot easily define these writers.  Their experiences vary.  Some come from los barrios of US cities; others come from the land or el llano as in “Bless me, Ultima.”  There are unifying themes, however, as pointed out in the Introduction of an anthology titled “Iguana Dreams: New Latino Fiction.”  The editors Delia Poey and Virgil Suarez tell us that “the central point of our unity is language.  While we may speak with different accents and use different expressions, we all share the experience of bilingualism.”  They continue: “We, as Latino writers and readers of Latino fiction … assert that the intermingling of the two languages is an effective means of communicating what otherwise could not be expressed.  Thus many Latino writers use Spanish in their work because it is an integral part of their experience.”

Another theme, according to these editors, is cultural survival.  These writers in their books ask:  “How much should Latinos give up of their culture to assimilate into the mainstream society.”  The word they use is el disimulo, and it is a theme that crops up throughout the Latino writings of the US but also in other non Latin countries where Latinos live.

To read beyond “Bless me, Ultima” you may want to read the anthology that I mention above.  It offers short stories from many of these outstanding writers.  You could get a taste that may bring you into JMRL to find more of Julia Alvarez, Cristina Garcia, Sandra Cisneros and so many others.

A bibliography of Latino authors of the United States in JMRL’s collections (click on the author to see what is available at JMRL):

Adult Fiction by Latin American Writers of the United States A Selection

~ The Reluctant Blogger