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Genre Fiction with Hispanic Characters

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For this year's Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 - October 15), the national theme is "Hispanics: A legacy of history, a present of action and a future of success. " According to the Census, 16% of the US population are of Hispanic/Latino origin.  Several months ago, I attended a forum in the Bronx on why young people are no longer reading.  One idea coming out of that session was  that people don't read because they don't see themselves represented in the literature.   With that in mind, I  decided to change my  "looking for a book to read" strategy (I normally do genre  or author searches or just  browse the shelves and read blurbs on the back of books to find one that captures my interest).  This time I was looking for books with Hispanic characters, not necessarily "Immigrant Experience books" but other genres featuring Hispanic  characters.  I  did a keyword search in the catalog and also Googled "Hispanic fiction" and "Latina fiction."  I didn't find very many,  but if you're are looking, here is a list of some I've recently read and enjoyed:

The Director's Cut by Janice Thompson. 2012.  (Fiction)

Tia Morales has grown up in a poor neighborhood in Los Angeles.  With hard work, discipline and determination, she is now a successful television director in Hollywood.  As the successful one in the family Tia is trying to help out her siblings who are not doing so well and trying to bring order to her family - the same way she does on the set.  But it is not working as well.  Her Mom wants Tia to find love, but is Tia open to finding love?   

Lonestar Sanctuary by Colleen Coble. 2007.  (Romantic Suspense)

Allie Siders has nowhere to hide.  Her parents died in a plane crash and her sister is killed.  A faceless stalker who claims responsibility for their deaths is now after her.  Allie is terrified, not only for herself but her five- year- old daughter.  Her husband Jon who died in Afghanistan had told her told if she ever needed help to go to Lonestar Sanctuary and seek out Rick Bailey.  While  Elijah DeAngelo, the ranch owner is welcoming,  Allie cannot understand why Jon would have her seek out the unfriendly tight-lipped foreman Rick Bailey.  

Murder in Miami by Noel Hynd. 2012     (Suspense Fiction) 

Federal Agent Alejandra DaLuca is on the trail of the powerful money laundering Dosi family whose organization has tentacles spanning the globe. The Dosi family will stop at nothing to have Alex out of their way.  With one failed attempt on her life, she is aware there is a bullet with her name on it.  Her informant was brutally murdered minutes before their scheduled meeting - the promised list of names undelivered.  Now she has an offer to leave New York and head to Miami to communicate with her dead informant. Will a Santeria séance at midnight give her the answers she is seeking or is this a setup by the powerful Dosi family.

 

Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble and Coming of Age in the Bronx by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc. 2004  (History)

Adrian Nicole LeBlanc follows three generations of two Puerto Rican families in the Bronx,  through their cycle of bad choices, poverty and hope.  An excellent and honest portrayal of life in the ghetto.

Sixty Acres and a Bride by Regina Jennings. 2012. (Historical Fiction/Romance)

After the death of her husband and father-in-law in Mexico, Rosa moves back to Texas with her mother-in-law to start a new life.  Upon arriving they found out they are in danger of losing their Texas farm due to taxation.  Rosa has no other home and is desperate to save their farm.  A Tex/Mex version of the Biblical Ruth and Naomi story with a twist.  For Wes, the widowed family leader and care-taker, Rosa is family and to be taken care of—but will Wes go as far as Boaz?  

Sworn to Protect by DiAnn Mills. 2010. (Suspense Fiction)

Danika Morales is a Border Patrol Agent - a widow with a young daughter.  Her husband Toby was killed two years ago trying to protect illegal immigrants. His murder is still unsolved.  Now someone is out to kill Danika.  Who can she trust?  Suspense laden with good insight into border patrol operations.

What other titles would you suggest?

More reading suggestions:

Comments

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The African diaspora in Latin America

As a resident of the Bronx and whose father was from what is now Belize, I'd like to see African influences openly reflected in the growing narrative of 'Latinos.' Aren't latinos actually a hybrid culture including aboriginal people, Africans and their conquerors? What's 'Latino' about that? What is that honoring?

A Hispanic Heritage Month Reading List: Books with Hispanic Char

This is an absolutely atrocious list. I don't see a single book written by a Latina/o author. There are entire websites listing books by Latina/os to appeal to various audiences. Additionally, dismissing Latina/o literature as being only about the 'immigrant experience' is lazy, irresponsible, and incorrect. I am extremely disappointed that the NYPL would post an article of such terrible quality.

There are others

I have a hard time believing that it was difficult for the author of this article to find Hispanic/Latina/o fiction, considering there are doctoral programs in this country that focus specifically on latina/o lit, a entire field that reflects a wide variety of experiences of Latinidad including, as the previous poster states, Afro-latinidad. It's interesting how the author states that young people are not motivated to read because they do not see themselves reflected in the literature, very few of these books appear to be written by a Latina/o (not that one needs to be Latina/o to write accurately about that experience, but the point is that there are many, many authors out there who are doing this work already). I expected this from Chipotle, but not from the New York Public Library. Perhaps have the bibliographer in charge of Latina/o lit put together these lists. Considering that these blogs are intended to reach and educate the masses, this article is doing little to debunk any myths about the (non)existence of Latina/o literature. If anyone is interested in recent works about "non-immigrant" Latina experiences, check out "The Amado Women" by Désirée Zamorano, for memoir "A Cup of Water Under My Bed" by Daisy Hernandez, for poetry "A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying" by Laurie Ann Guerrero, all published within the past year. There are also many others that are being published by smaller presses.

Books with Hispanic characters

On my recent coast-to-coast drive -- CA to NY and back again -- I took two books with Latina characters -- Mañana Means Heaven by Tim Z. Hernandez and The Amado Women by Désirée Zamorano -- both of which will be considered as alternates for the novel I usually assign to my freshman comp students -- John Fante's Ask The Dust, which also gives readers a look at a Latina in L.A. in the 1930s, but from the POV of the male author and protagonist.

Is this a sick joke?

How is it possible that a blog published by the leading public library in one of the most diverse cities in the country can be so atrocious? Nevermind the fact that NYC is home to millions of Latin@s, Nuyoricans, Dominican@s, Mexican@s, Chican@s, lo que sea, if the author had done a simple search, s/he would have seen that Latin@s have a RICH and DIVERSE literary history that dates back from BEFORE Anglos came to this country. I suggest you start with the anthology "Herencia" and work your way to the present where writers such a Ire'ne Lara Silva, Laurie Ann Guerrero, Michael Nava, Rigoberto Gonzalez, Adelina Anthony, Virginia Grise, Irma Mayorga, Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano, Dino Foxx, Sandra Cisneros (!), Ana Castillo, Gwen Zepeda, Carmon Tafolla, etc (I could do this all night) are writing complex depictions of Latinidad from coast to coast. I suggest that this blog be taken down immediately and be reposted by someone who has done their homework and TRULY wishes to celebrate Latin@ (Hispanic) Heritage en los Estados Unidos! http://www.buzzfeed.com/nicolasmedinamora/15-essential-books-by-latino-authors-in-america#35fbosz

Like my colleagues, I write

Like my colleagues, I write here to express my frustration at this post's short-sightedness and failure to see Latinas/os as writers, much less readers. And that this post came from a public library is even more astounding and shameful. Do you not see the harm you have caused with this post? Not only have you regurgitated some of the most abhorrent of Latina/o stereotypes with this list, but you've failed in the library's responsibility to educate and provide access to literature that gives justice to marginalized groups. For many of us who are Latina/o and grew up poor or working-class, libraries were a haven because though we couldn't afford to buy books, we could always, always access the library. Has this library ever heard of La Casa Azul Bookstore, also in NYC, that sells books written by and about Latinas/os? Maybe they should have been asked to post a list that was more thoughtful and respectful. Shame on the writer of this post, and shame on the library for such a disservice.

Thank you all for taking the

Thank you all for taking the time to comment. Jean regularly posts on the occasion of Hispanic Heritage Month. It's clear to me that she was inspired to broaden her personal reading selections to include books with characters who happen to be Hispanic, after learning that one impediment to reading can be not seeing one's own experience reflected in what is available. It was not meant to be an exhaustive list, or a scholarly one, but simply one made up of a librarian's recent interest in popular titles. As a library, we have room on our shelves for great literature, paperbacks and everything in between. We respect individual tastes and preferences in reading material. I hope you will delve deeper into the NYPL blogs to see more recommendations that are relevant to your interests, and continue to give us your ideas and feedback.

Glancing through the list of

Glancing through the list of suggested titles, I am particularly interested in reading Murder in Miami, as this appears to be my cup of tea! I recall reading another Hispanic murder mystery at least 15 years ago, centering on the disappearance of a woman's siblings in Florida and her subsequent actions in tracking them down. I'd welcome a list of Hispanic murder mysteries in or out of Florida.

Positive portrayal

Thanks for a list of books which positively portrays Latinas in the US. Too often, we are cast as minor or negative stereotypical characters in books and films.

Mexican women in MEXICO are what

Becoming Marta by Lorea Canales is a stunning novel that depicts three generations of Mexican women from different social backgrounds as they are living now. Her novel was eye opening for me. Everyone should read it. It’s a page-turner too.

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