A selection of Latine authors to appreciate this fall.
Honoring Latine Heritage Month goes further than just appreciating the culture, it urges us to support the work that brings pride to the community. Latine authors carry these values through their literature. Their art speaks to unique shared experiences, ranging from immigration to the trials and successes of Latine people in America. In celebration of this month, our staff has shared a variety of authors from multicultural backgrounds that have had an influence on them as writers and individuals.
Lauren’s Pick: Ada Limón, The Carrying
One of my favorite authors of all time is the current (and first Latina) Poet Laureate, Ada Limón. After stumbling upon her work in one of my poetry writing workshops, I’ve been obsessed with her writing ever since.
To be frank, I’ve read everything of hers that I can get my hands on. Her work is vulnerable. It’s full of sharp pain and soft, intimate moments of happiness. She weaves emotion into observations of nature in an unforgettable way. It’s allowed me to connect with nature poetry in a way I didn’t think was possible until I read her work.
Although her style is more free-verse than it is lyrical, she creates a rhythm as natural as our own heartbeats (which doesn’t always work with free-verse poetry). There is a lot of poetry that is difficult to understand, whether that’s a result of the poetry form or the language used, and hers is quite the opposite – it’s accessible and feels natural when you’re reading it.
If you haven’t read her work, the best place to start is her book, The Carrying. I cannot recommend it enough, but I do suggest you have a box of tissues handy.
Richie’s Pick: Daniel Alarcón, Sheila Alvarado, City of Clowns
When you pick up City of Clowns, you are immersed into another world full of drawings, poems, cheeky wordplay and visualizations by writer Daniel Alarcón and illustrator Sheila Alvarado.
The piece was originally a part of a collection of short stories by Alarcón, War by Candlelight, and was later published by the New Yorker before becoming the graphic novel adaptation loved by many today.
The 138-page novel flies before your eyes as you get lost in the story of Oscar “Chino” Uribe, a journalist two weeks past his deadline who’s expected to write about city clowns in Lima, Peru. Yes, clowns.
The book manages to juggle one person’s struggle with accepting a life full of abuse and neglect, grappling with the death of an estranged parent, all while chronicling the reality of dejected street clowns that litter the violent streets of Lima.
If you’re interested in a rollercoaster ride of emotions, and mind-boggling visuals, this book is for you.
Emily’s Pick: Julia Alvarez, How the García Girls Lost Their Accents
How the García Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez is the perfect novel to acquaint yourself with the experience of a family caught between two cultures.
The novel is set after the García de la Torres family flees their home in the Dominican Republic due to a failed attempt to overthrow the government by their father.
The transition to the U.S. is not easy for the girls, but after a while, the García sisters adjust to American life by assimilating and becoming disconnected to their original culture. This looks like forgetting how to speak Spanish, wearing their curly hair straight and ultimately leaving their extended family behind.
The novel is in reverse chronological order, starting with the sister’s current life and makes its way back to their life in the Dominican Republic. By the end of the novel, you recognize the immense impact of their immigration story and how it created four strong women. The story switches narrators, and is told by varying members of the García family, giving the audience the ability to bond with the family and experience their rise in America through different perspectives.
Whether you’re a first-gen student or an immigrant yourself, the story of the García sisters embodies the experience of what it means to be from a bicultural home and is worth the read.
Sofí’s Pick: Mariana Enriquez, Things We Lost in the Fire
For all fans of horror and anything creepy, I recommend the compilation of short stories Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez. A couple of years ago, a bookstore employee recommended this author to me, and I’ve since read and loved most of her work.
What sets Enriquez apart from others in her genre is her uncanny ability to truly make you dread what lies ahead for you on the next page. She’s great at making you wonder what’s real and what’s not. Her world-building adds an incredible depth to her stories and is characterized best by her poetically gothic, and raw, writing style.
If you’re looking to check out a budding young and talented Argentinian author, check out this book or any of her other works.
Gisselle’s Pick: Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street
An author that has touched me as an individual is Sandra Cisneros.
Cisneros is an author proud of her Mexican-American roots and showcases it in her writing. Apart from her wonderful stories, she empowers others to find their voice through workshops to advance their creativity. She founded the Macondo Foundation and the Alfredo Cisneros Del Moral Foundation, both of which provide support for aspiring writers. Her ability to impact people starts with her engagement in the community, and carries over into her books.
If I had to choose a book of hers, I would easily pick The House on Mango Street, which is one of the most memorable novels I’ve read. The House on Mango Street follows the life of Esperanza Cordero, who is Mexican-American. Her neighborhood brings on life altering moments which leaves her contemplating staying home or uprooting her life.
Accompanying Esperanza as she maneuvers her identity can lead to your own self-realization, is exactly why this novel is a time worthy read.
Header illustration by Julia Hester