New York Public Library: Hispanic Heritage Month


Hispanic Heritage Month: Recommending Female Latin American Authors
Adriana Blancarte-Hayward, Outreach Manager

Latin America is known for its rich literary tradition, marked during the 1960s and 1970s by the Latin American Boom, a movement that introduced the world to such heavyweights as Julio Cortazar, Carlos Fuentes, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

While these male authors get a lot of time in the limelight, talented women have also captured the political and emotional landscape of Latin America in their books, from the Boom and beyond.

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, here is a selection of recommended books by classic and contemporary female Latin American and Latina authors for you to enjoy!


Estados Unidos de Banana / United States of Banana by Giannina Braschi
Giannina Braschi was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and currently lives in New York City. She writes in three languages: “Spanish, Spanglish, and English,” a medley familiar to countless Latinos in the United States.

United States of Banana is an absurdist novel that takes place at the Statue of Liberty in post-9/11 New York City. Three unlikely characters—Hamlet, Zarathrustra, and Giannina—are determined to free Puerto Rican prisoner Segismundo.

Segismundo has been imprisoned by the King of The United States of Banana, who also happens to be his father, for the crime of being born. Eventually, the king reconciles, frees his son, makes Puerto Rico the fifty-first state of the country, and grants American passports to all Latin American citizens. Unexpected power shifts ensue.

Selected Poems of Gabriela Mistral by Gabriela Mistral
The first Nobel Prize in literature awarded to a Latin American writer went to Mistral, a Chilean poet. Though famous and beloved in Latin America and Europe, Mistral’s reputation in the United States has has often been overshadowed by fellow countryman, Pablo Neruda. Translations and selections of her poems in Spanish have tended to soften her work towards the realm of tenderness and motherhood; this translation includes the strangeness, darkness, and intensity of her poems.


In the Time of the Butterflies / En el tiempo de las mariposas by Julia Alvarez
Julia Alvarez was born in New York City, then raised in the Dominican Republic until her family had to flee during General Rafael Leonidas Trujillo’s regime in 1960.Months after Alvarez and her family escaped the island, three sisters were found dead due to a jeep accident, according to official reports. What these official reports failed to mention was the three sisters were among the leading opponents of Trujillo’s dictatorship. They were known popularly as Las Mariposas (The Butterflies). With her imagination and heart, Julia Alvarez brings the Butterflies back to life again to expose the human cost of political repression.

Leaving Tabasco by Carmen Boullosa
Boullosa is a Mexican novelist who has written widely on issues of feminism and gender roles. In her family saga, Leaving Tabasco, Boullosa follows protagonist Delmira Ulloa through her difficult journey out of the imagined state of Tabasco, where magic is embedded in everyday life. In this town, Delmira’s grandmother floats over her bed at night, stones have been known to turn into water, and torrential downpours can be purchased at the market during the rainy season.

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
In the stories of Her Body and Other Parties, Machado unflinchingly reveal the implicit violence of inhabiting a female body. A wife refuses her husband’s wish to remove a green ribbon from her neck, a woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity, and a weight loss surgery results in a shadowy houseguest.A writer of Cuban descent, Machado received her MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop. She credits Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez as influences.

Absolute Solitude by Dulce Maria Loynaz
Until being awarded the Cervantes Prize in 1992, Cuban poet Dulce Maria Loynaz lived in relative obscurity in her homeland. Absolute Solitude presents a selection of her prose poems about nature, emotions, and love. The book includes Loynaz’s works from the 1950s through her emergence in the 1990s. During her life, Loynaz came into personal contact with writers such as Federico Garcia Lorca, Gabriela Mistral, and Alejo Carpentier.


El Infinito en la Palma de la Mano / Infinity in the Palm of her Hand by Gioconda Belli
Gioconda Belli grew up in upper-class Managua Nicaragua. In 1970, a blossoming awareness of the social inequities in Nicaragua led her to join the Sandinistas in the struggle against the Samoza dictatorship. Her book, A Country Under My Skin, chronicles her journey from society girl to paramilitary rebel. She later published El Infinito en la Palma de la Mano, a parable about Adam and Eve. This book follows the couple as they come to grips with their expulsion from paradise, discover their responsibilities and limits, and make sacrifices to survive in a world of their own making.

In The Vortex Of The Cyclone by Excilia Saldana
Saldana is an Afro-Cuban poet, translator, and professor who won the prestigious Nicholas Guillen Award for Distinction in Poetry in 1988. This first-ever bilingual anthology contains a wide-ranging selection of her work including lullabies, erotic letters, autobiographical poems, and quiet reflections on Cuba.

Cola Franzen, translator of Jorge Guillen’s Horses in the Air and Other Poems said about Saldana’s collection, “A wonderful book, strong, with enormous energy, fast-paced, truly poetic, with a varied and rich vocabulary ranging from the vernacular to the exalted. This is poetry to be said aloud, sometimes chanted, sometimes shouted, sometimes sung… a book that is both original and significant.”

Thus Were Their Faces by Silvina Ocampo
Argentine writer Ocampo has been called “one of the twentieth century’s great masters of the short story.” Italo Calvino once said about her, “I don’t know another writer who better captures the magic inside everyday rituals, the forbidden or hidden face that our mirrors don’t show us.”

Thus Were Their Faces collects a wide range of Ocampo’s best short fiction and novella-length stories from her writing life. Her spooky stories include the likes of a marble statue of a winged horse that speaks to a girl, a house of sugar that is the site of an eerie possession, children who lock their perverse mothers in a room and burn it, and a lapdog who records the dreams of an old woman.

A House of My Own by Sandra Cisneros
Rounding out the list is a more recent book from the beloved Mexican-American author of The House on Mango Street. A House Of My Own centers on Cisneros’s search for her own constructed space, drawing inspiration from the Chicago streets where she grew up to a place in Mexico where “my ancestors lived for centuries.” This compilation of nonfiction stories creates an intimate album of this literary legend’s life and career.


CILE 2016: Royal Academy of the Spanish Language

Spanish is the Language of the Future

The Royal Academy of the Spanish Language is hosting an international conference on the future of the Spanish language

By LatinoLA
The Spanish Royal Academy and Cervantes Institute will present the 7th International Congress on the Spanish Language (CILE 2016) in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on March 15-18th, 2016.

The focus of the grand event is how alive, versatile, and ever expanding Spanish is. Did you know that Spanish is second most spoken language in the world with 490 million speakers? That is why it is called the language of the future with an anticipated 530 million speakers by 2030. It is the third most widely used language on the internet, and 20 million people around the world study Spanish as a second language.

Nobel prize winning novelist JEAN-MARIE LE CLÉZIO will give a keynote address at CILE 2016 on the impact of Cervantes on world culture. Nobel prize winning chemist MARIO MOLINA will give opening remarks on science, thought and communication. The program features panels by the most celebrated Puerto Rican authors LUIS RAFAEL SANCHEZ and GIANNINA BRASCHI.

The conference is dedicated Nicaraguan poet RUBEN DARIO, Puerto Rican poet LUIS PALES MATOS, and Spanish poet PEDRO SALINAS.

There will be representatives from 22 academies of the Spanish language throughout the Americas and Europe, and more than 50 journalists.

Amazon Crossing, the publishing division of the largest internet retailer Amazon, has launched a editorial program that publishes translations of world classics, popular and historical novels, and high-art books as well in Spanish translations. Amazon Crossing has pledged to translate literature by Nobel Laureates into Spanish and make them available for the mass market on Kindle and paper back. Puerto Rican author Giannina Braschi’s dramatic novel “Estados Unidos de Banana” will be published on March 15th, 2016 to celebrate the opening of CILE in Puerto Rico. Professor Braschi will participate in a panel with Spanish publishers on the subject of creativity, the book, and the market. She will also give a poetry reading as part of the cultural program.


Other CILE guests include Edmundo Paz Soldan, Jorge Edwards, Jorge Volpi, Myra Montero, Leonardo Padura, Antonio Skármeta, and Sergio Ramírez.

The event will feature concerts, book salons, and tours throughout Old San Juan.

To register, click here:

Summer reads: brilliant takes on Nuyoricans, random murder and narco-literatura

Down the Rabbit Hole, , , , , , , , , , , ,


by Claudio Iván Remeseira, @HispanicNewYork 

12:48 pm on 08/25/2013

Puerto Rican poet, novelist, and essayist Giannina Braschi is a true force of nature. Born in 1953 into an affluent San Juan family, by the age of 14 she was the youngest female tennis champion in Puerto Rico’s history. Before turning 18 she had left home to study literature in Madrid, Rome, London, and Paris. After four years in Europe, she established herself in New York, where she later earned a PhD in Spanish literature from the State University of New York, Stony Brook. An expert in Cervantes, Garcilaso, Lorca, Machado, Vallejo, and Bécquer, she taught for many years at Rutgers, Colgate, and other prestigious universities.

A writer in three languages –Spanish, English, and Spanglish—her own literary work has been considered cutting-edge and revolutionary by the critics, as well as recognized with several awards by the National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, PEN American Center, Ford Foundation, and the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, among other organizations.

In 1988 she turned out “El Imperio de los Sueños,” widely regarded as a classic of Latin American Postmodernism, which at times, in the words of one critic, sounded uncannily like a female, tropical version of Samuel Beckett. Braschi’s production blends fiction, drama, essays, poetry, philosophy, and performance art. In 1998 she published “Yo-Yo Boing!” a novel written in Spanglish that dramatized the linguistic clash between “Anglos” and Latinos in New York City. Both “Yo-Yo Boing!” and “Empire of Dreams” have been masterfully translated into English by Tess O’Dwyer.


Braschi’s latest book is also the first one that she wrote entirely in English, “United States of Banana.”  In a post-9/11 world, she explores the cultural experience of Latinos in the U.S. and the three political alternatives for Puerto Rico: nation, colony, and statehood—or in the author’s words, Wishy, Wishy-Washy, and Washy.

“Revolutionary in subject and form, UNITED STATES OF BANANA [sic] is a beautifully written declaration of personal independence,” declared The Evergreen Review. On September 26, Braschi is scheduled to appear on September 26 at the American Voces series organized by The John Hopkins University, Baltimore, where she will discuss her work with the audience.


Javier Marías’s 12th novel, “The Infatuations,” translated into English by Margaret Jull Costa, is a mesmerizing, disturbing novel. At the center of the story, there is an apparently random murder.  All we know about this murder we know from the perspective of a woman of a rather uncontrolled imagination. This woman, Maria, is also the one who tells the story.

This is the first time that the award-winning Marías, born in Madrid in 1951 and considered one of the greatest Spanish-language novelists alive, employs a female narrator. As the storyline progresses, the murder mystery turns into a metaphysical inquiry into love and death, guilt and obsession, chance and coincidence—in sum, on the elusive nature of truth and of our ability to find it.


On the surface, “Down the Rabbit Hole,” Juan Pablo Villalobos’s miniature novel, is just another example of “narco-literatura,” the genre inspired by the Mexican drug wars. More deeply, it is a brilliant experiment on perspective and the account of a delirious journey to grant a child’s wish.

Short-listed for the Guardian First Book Award, “Down the Rabbit Hole” is the promising debut of a post-boom generation writer (Villalobos was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1973).

ClaudioRemeseiraClaudio Iván Remeseira is a New York-based award-winning journalist, writer, and critic. Translator of the Spanish-language on-line section of The Nation and editor of Hispanic New York, an online portal and blog on current events and culture. Editor of Hispanic New York: A Sourcebook (Columbia University Press, 2010), an anthology of essays on the city’s Latino, Latin American & Iberian cultural heritage, and winner of the Latino International Book Award in the category of Best Reference Book in English (2011).

Hispanic Writers Series “American Voces” Presents Giannina Braschi, Junot Díaz, and Cristina García


Repeating Islands: News and commentary on Caribbean culture, literature, and the arts

posted by Ivette Romero
August 18, 2013


“American Voces” is a new Distinguished Hispanic Writers series at Johns Hopkins University; on the first year’s roster, it presents Hispanic American writers Junot Díaz (Dominican Republic/US), Giannina Braschi (Puerto Rico/US), and Cristina García (Cuba/US).

The John Hopkins University has launched “American Voces”, a new distinguished Hispanic writers series, with two shining stars of the Caribbean: Dominican novelist Junot Diaz (This is How You Lose Her) and the Puerto Rican poet Giannina Braschi (United States of Banana).

The Pulitzer Prize winning author Junot Díaz opened the new series in March 2013, and set the casual but politically charged tone for American Voces. Díaz spoke about how genres “that nobody takes seriously” such as horror, science fiction, and fantasy, may be better equipped to narrate the stories of colonialism’s cultural violence than realistic genres.

juntot1American Voces will now open its Fall 2013 series with Boricua Giannina Braschi on September 26. Author of the Spanglish classic Yo-Yo Boing!, Braschi’s cutting-edge work bridges drama, fiction, essays, poetry, philosophy, and performance art. She will discuss hot topics such as immigration. On the subject she has noted (in United States of Banana): “There are two movements in the history of colonization: invasion and immigration. Emigration is a reaction to the invasion of a nation. Because they have been invaded — they will emigrate.

This is about changing perspective from the point of view of the colonizer to the point of view of the colonized. The colonizer organizes the invasion but doesn’t prepare for the counter-invasion. The colonized moves from the land of the invaded to the land of his invader with the same adventurous spirit of the conqueror — not to avenge with arms but to reap the spoils of war—to infiltrate that new culture and to conquer it with his own culture.”

garcia-color2001Cristina Garcia, author of six novels including The Aguero Sisters and Monkey Hunting, will also appear in American Voces. On February 20, 2014, Garcia will present her new book King of Cuba, a darkly humorous novel about a decrepit dictator who refuses to accept that his grip on his health and his power is failing.

American Voces was founded and organized by Amanda Smith and Amy Sheeran to provide an engaging forum with Hispanic authors whose works re-imagine the cultural borders that have delimited the traditions of US and Hispanic literatures. This new series is sponsored by the Department of Germanic and Romance Languages at The John Hopkins.

For original, see


reblogged from: Repeating Islands