This week kicks off National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15), which honors generations of Hispanic and Latin Americans who have positively influenced the nation. The celebration began with a week in 1968 under President Lyndon B. Johnson, was extended to a month-long celebration by President Ronald Reagan in 1988, and was enacted later in the year. The unusual start and end of the middle of the month was chosen to coincide with the independence days of several Latin American countries, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, as well as Mexico and Chile. The month is also called Latin Heritage Month or Latinx Heritage Month (the latter includes Brazilian culture).
To celebrate, we’ve put together a list of a dozen books by Latinx authors spanning various genres, including romance, horror, YA, and non-fiction, which draw inspiration from their Afro-Latinx cultures, Mexican, Dominican, Chicano and Boricua. If you choose to purchase books from this list, consider purchasing them from a Latinx-owned bookstore.
Juliet Milagros Palante is a proud Puerto Rican lesbian from the Bronx with big plans for the summer. First on the list? Coming out to his family, which is far from spectacular, especially with his mother. She then travels to Portland, Oregon, where she will intern with her favorite feminist writer, Harlowe Brisbane. Then she must understand why her girlfriend is acting more and more distant. And last (but certainly not least), she has to decide if her local librarian is flirting with her or is just friendly. As Juliet juggles all of this upheaval, she begins to suspect that Harlowe may not be the intersectional feminist she claims to be. Originally published as an independent novel in 2016, this contemporary coming-of-age story was re-edited in 2019 by Dial Books, a print of the critically acclaimed Penguin Random House, including a cry from the bestselling essayist Roxanne Gaye.
Set in the 1960s in São Paulo, Brazil, this novel focuses on a teenage car thief and lothaire-in-training Ciccio, who discovers a note written in German while browsing his father’s collection of books. The letter was written by Anne Ernst, a German woman who had an affair with Ciccio’s father while stationed in Germany in 1931. This affair gave birth to a son, Ciccio’s half-brother, who disappeared during the chaos of WWII. . Soon, Ciccio finds himself obsessed with his long-lost brother and sets off on a multi-year journey to find him, hoping he will understand more about his estranged father. Written by Brazilian singer-songwriter Chico Buarque, My German Brother is semi-autobiographical, based on his own determined search for his long-lost half-brother.
Hispanic Heritage Month coincides with the first half of October, the perfect time to experience a horror novel. Located in 1950s Mexico, Mexican gothic follows glamorous socialite Noemí Taboada, who receives a desperate letter from her newly married cousin Catalina, begging to be saved from a mysterious and evil entity. Confused and worried, Noemí goes to her cousin’s new home, High Place, a creepy old house in the Mexican countryside. What she discovers is a family full of secrets, rumors of the house’s violent past, and dreams of blood and death. Inspired by horror films directed by famous Mexican director Carlos Enrique Taboada and classic Gothic novels like Jane eyre, Rebecca, The monk, and Yellow wallpaper, Mexican gothic is guaranteed to send chills down your spine.
In this non-fiction work, historian Felipe Fernández-Armesto brushes aside the premise that America’s history began with the first English settlers in Jamestown, Virginia, and instead traces America’s beginnings to through his Hispanic past. Beginning with the colonizing conquistadors of Spain, the author traces how missionaries and rancheros brought the expansion of Spain to the United States, settling in California, mapping the American interior to the Rockies and mapping the Pacific coast. It explores the Mexican-American War and the subsequent Hispanic resurgence and Latin American immigration to the United States. The book is a deep dive into the history of one of America’s rapidly growing populations.
Written entirely in verse, The poet X is the first novel by the famous slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo. The heroine of the book, Xiomara Batista, a young girl growing up in Harlem, finds herself questioning her Catholic faith and the world around her. After postponing her confirmation, she must deal with her bossy and religious mother, her burgeoning feelings for her classmate, Aman, her family’s expectations of chastity and obedience, and her ever-growing passion for slam poetry, anything. that his mother forbade him to continue. But she is determined not to let these obstacles get in the way of her art, her love, and her own understanding of the faith. This 2018 critically acclaimed book has won numerous honors, including the 2018 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.
This coming-of-age novel, first published in 1984 by acclaimed Mexican-American author Sandra Cisneros, is a series of interconnected vignettes chronicling the pre-teens years of Esperanza Cordero, a young Chicana girl who grew up in the Hispanic neighborhood of Chicago. Esperanza observes her neighborhood and her predominantly Latinx neighbors, each with their own struggles and dreams. As she enters her teens, she confronts the realities of being a person of color, a woman and a poor in a racist, patriarchal and classist society. Today, the book is considered a classic work of Chicano literature and is required reading in many classrooms.
In 1965, 15-year-old Ana Cancion was taken from her home in the Dominican Republic to marry Juan Ruiz, a man twice his age who lives in New York. Ana must accompany him to America in order to help her family obtain green cards, but she finds life in the United States lonely. She doesn’t speak English, her much older husband mistreats her and forbids her to leave their tiny Washington Heights apartment, and since she can’t leave her home, she can’t make friends. All of that changes when the Dominican Republic slips into political turmoil and Juan returns to protect his family’s money and land, leaving his kind and free younger brother, Cesar, to care for his wife.
With Cesar, Ana finds freedom, English lessons and affection, and soon begins to wonder how she can give up all this when Juan returns. The novel is based in part on the story of Cruz’s own mother and was a 2020 Hello america Choice of book club.
In this documentary travelogue, activist and journalist Paola Ramos travels across the United States to interview young people who define what it is to be Latinx. It introduces readers to the growing Latinx population, which increasingly influences society and politics. It is aimed at Afro-Latinx, Trans-Latinx, Cuban-American and more. With the Latinxes making up the youngest demographic in the country, many of whom are quickly reaching voting age and the growth of online activism, Ramos hopes to shed light on the growing power and many diverse identities within the community. Latinx community.
First published in 1972, this coming of age story is perhaps the most widely read novel in the Chicano literary canon, taught in schools across the country. The novel follows Antonio Marez, a young boy whose life changes when a woman named Ultima, a curandera (female doctor or spiritual healer), enters his life. She has come to live out her final years in the Marez family home and offers Antonio wisdom and guidance as he deals with bigotry, evil possession, his wayward brother, and the deaths of those close to him. As Antonio turns from boy to young man, Ultima teaches him magic, spirituality, and its cultural connections to paganism.
This historical novel about a young woman’s quest to get to know herself is one of Allende’s best-known works. First published in 2000, this is the story of Eliza Sommers, an orphan raised in the British colony of Valparaíso, Chile, by Miss Rose and her brother Jeremy. A rebel from the start, Eliza meets and falls in love with a rake, Jeremy Joaquín Andieta’s employee. When gold was discovered in California in 1849, Joaquín flew to San Francisco in the hope of enriching himself. Eliza soon finds out that she is pregnant with her child and enlists the help of her good friend Tao Chien, a Chinese doctor, to accompany her to California in search of her lover. This opens up new opportunities and freedoms for Eliza and Tao.
After fitness trainer Tori Alvarez has a very sudden and very public break up with her politician boyfriend, she is determined to escape the media frenzy by spending a vacation in Aruba. The trip, naturally, will be man-less, until she meets a cute and affectionate guy staying at the same resort. The man? Hollywood idol Carter Stone, who recently underwent a dramatic physical transformation for her latest role and is almost unrecognizable. When he finds himself ready for a role that requires him to bulk up as quickly and safely as possible, he turns to Tori for help in training. But as the two find themselves increasingly drawn to each other, the paparazzi and Carter’s fame threaten to sow discord between them.
Yadriel, an aspiring brujo (witch), struggles to convince his traditional Latinx family to accept that he is transgender. Desperate to find a way to prove himself, he enlists the help of his cousin and best friend, Maritza, to summon the ghost of a murdered relative and set him free. But something goes wrong, and Yadriel instead summons the ghost of his school’s late bad boy, Julian Diaz, who is determined to not go quietly in this good night. Instead, Diaz convinces Yadriel and Maritza to help him find out how he died and sort out some issues. Annoyed at first, Yadriel agrees to help him, but finds that the more time he spends with Julian, the less he wants to free his mind.
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