Latino literature

Latino literature is literature written by people of Latin American ancestry, often but not always in English, most notably by Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Cuban Americans, and Dominican Americans, many of whom were born in the United States.

Notable writers include: Elizabeth Acevedo, Julia Alvarez, Gloria Anzaldua, Rudolfo Anaya, Giannina Braschi, Julia de Burgos, Ana Castillo, Sandra Cisneros, Junot Diaz, Cristina García, Oscar Hijuelos, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Piri Thomas, Rudy Ruiz, Denise Chavez, Cherrie Moraga, Kathleen Alcalá, Carmen Maria Machado, and Edmundo Paz Soldan, among others.

Rise of Latino literature in American academiesEdit

A major development in late-20th-century American literature was the proliferation of writing by and about Latinos.[1] This coincided with the Civil Rights Movement and its related ethnic pride movements; these led to the formation of Ethnic Studies and Latino Studies programs in major American universities.[1] Latino Studies stemmed from the development of Chicano Studies and Puerto Rican Studies programs in response to demands articulated by student movements in the late 1960s. Such programs were established, alongside other new areas of literary study as women's literature, gay and lesbian literature, postcolonial literature, Third World Feminism, and the rise of literary theory. Many works dramatize social justice issues that disproportionally impact Latino communities, such as discrimination, racism, harassment, incarceration, border and immigration issues.[2] There is a plethora of scholarship about Latino people in a range of fields, including literature, theater, popular culture, religion, Spanglish linguistics, politics, and urban planning. Latino literature expands American identity and tackles some of the country's controversies re: immigration, the US-Mexico border, Spanglish, Latino LGBTQ sexuality, and the double-consciousness of the Latino minority.[2]

Prominent WritersEdit


In the 1990s, Sandra Cisneros and Julia Alvarez helped blaze the trail for Latina authors with novels such as In the Time of the Butterflies, The House on Mango Street, and How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, winning praise from critics and gracing best-seller lists across the Americas.[3] Precursors of Latino philosophy and Third World Feminisms are Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldua, best known for their collaboration of groundbreaking feminist anthology This Bridge Called My Back.[4]


Groundbreaking Chicana books that are still widely studied include: The Last of the Menu Girls (Denise Chavez), Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza (Gloria Anzaldúa), and So Far from God (Ana Castillo). Other Chicanx writers of note are Jimmy Santiago Baca, Lorna Dee Cervantes, and Leroy V. Quintana.

Puerto RicanEdit

Celebrated Puerto Rican novels include Piri Thomas's Down These Mean Streets[5] and Giannina Braschi's Spanglish classic Yo-Yo Boing! and her geopolitical comic tragedy in English about the liberation of Puerto Rico, United States of Banana.[6][7] Other novels of note are Rosario Ferré's Eccentric Neighborhoods and Luis Rafael Sanchez's Macho Camacho's Beat.[8] Puerto Rico and its diaspora have also produced important playwrights such as René Marqués, Luis Rafael Sánchez, José Rivera, and Lin-Manuel Miranda, and poets such as Julia de Burgos, Miguel Algarin, Giannina Braschi, and Pedro Pietri, as well as various members of the Nuyorican Poets Café.[9]


Dominican-American author Junot Díaz, received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his 2007 novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which tells the story of an overweight Dominican boy growing up as a social outcast in New Jersey. Another Dominican author, Julia Alvarez, is well known for How the García Girls Lost Their Accents and In the Time of the Butterflies.[8]


Prominent Cuban-American works include Roberto G. FernandezRaining Backwards (1988), Cristina Garcia’s Dreaming in Cuban (1992), and Oscar Hijuelos’ The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love (1989); and their colleagues in poetry Ana Menéndez, Richard Blanco, and Rafael Campo.[10] Latino philosophers from Cuba who write about the intersection of literature and philosophy include Jorge J. E. Gracia, Ofelia Schutte, Rolando Perez, and Gustavo Perez Firmat.[11]

21st century trendsEdit

Coming-of-age storiesEdit

Among the newer voices are those in the genre of Latino coming of age novels. There are many stories and poems about young female protagonists struggling in school or within their bicultural families; the noteworthy books in this category include I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez (2017) and The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (2018)[12]

For young readers in middle school, The Other Half of Happy by Rebecca Balcárcel tells a coming of age story, one of a young girl's longing to return to her father's homeland of Guatemala.[13] Daniel Alarcón’s At Night We Walk in Circles offer up political satire, such as the plot of an aspiring young actor living in a war-torn, unnamed South American, who lands a role in a farcical play “The Idiot President” and takes the role too seriously.[14] In stark contrast are the autobiographically inspired adult fiction titles such as Lina Meruane's Seeing Red, about the fear of going blind and having to depend on a lover. This is How You Loose Her by Junot Diaz (2012)[15] a young student is inappropriately involved in a sexual relationship with an older women.

Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya is a popular Chicano coming of age novel that is widely taught in American middle schools and high schools. Anaya's novel is set in the 1940s in rural New Mexico and references curandera (spiritual healing) traditions, such as the gathering of medicinal herbs.[16] The boy faces cultural, religious, and moral contradictions in his community of farmers, priests, cowboys, and soldiers.[16]

Emergence of Authors from Central AmericaEdit

As the 21st century saw an increase of Central Americans in the U.S. population, so too was there a notable rise in the number of literary contributions of authors from that area. Latino Boom: An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature, the first Latino literature anthology to offer scholarly and pedagogical resources, was co-edited by John S. Christie and the Salvadoran-American, Jose B. Gonzalez.[17] Salvadoran-American poets such as William Archila, Claudia Castro Luna,[18] Jose B. Gonzalez, Leticia Hernandez Linares,[19] and Javier Zamora published poetry collections that reflected on the Salvadoran Civil War and their own migrations. Leticia Hernandez also co-edited, along with Ruben Martinez and Hector Tobar, The Wandering Song: Central American Writing in the United States,[20] the first major collection of Central American writing in the U.S.

Other notable authors who have family roots in Central America include: Nicaraguan-American Francisco Aragon; Guatemalan-American, Francisco Goldman; Panamanian-American Author, Christina Henriquez;[21] Costa Rican-American poet, Ruben Quesada; and the Honduran-American poet, Roy G. Guzman.

Latino sci fi, speculative fiction, and fantasyEdit

Growing genres are Latino Speculative Fiction, Sci-Fi, and fantasy fiction; with their swift development comes a growth in Latino comic books and graphic novels, as documented in Latinx Rising, the first anthology of science fiction and fantasy by Latinos living in the United States.[22] Edited by Matthew David Goodwin and with an introduction by Frederick Luis Aldama, the anthology features a range of speculative and fantasy fiction (i.e. ghosts, aliens, superheroes, robots, talking sardines) written by Junot Diaz, Giannina Braschi, Kathleen Alcalá, Carmen Maria Machado, Ana Castillo, Edmundo Paz Soldan, and emerging Latino short-story authors such as Ernest Hogan and Sabrina Vourvoulias.[23][24]

Latino speculative, fantasy, and weird fiction bring humor to fantastical, futuristic, comedic, and stark political subjects, offering readers strange new concepts such as: Los cosmos azteca, shape shifting robots, pre-Colombian holobooks, talking sardines, and patron saints that are cybernetically wired.[22] Cultural theorist Christopher Gonzalez argues that Latino fantasy writing provides necessary excursions into the realm of impossible in order for writers and readers to cope with 21st-century realities.[25] Latino authors write about interconnected social justice, familial, and psychological issues (i.e., colonialism, migration, racism, mass incarceration, and misogyny).

Carmen Maria Machado, author of Her Body and Other Parties, blends gothic romance, fantasy, and horror when dealing with misogyny.[26] Giannina Braschi conjures, in United States of Banana, a bizarre cast of characters including things, creatures, and people (i.e., Cockroach, Exterminator, Reptiles, Lady Liberty, Fidel Castro, Hu Jintao, Barack Obama, Hamlet, Zarathustra, Pablo Neruda, and Rubén Darío).[27] In dealing with issues of Puerto Rican sovereignty and debt, Braschi's work projects about what might happen if the United States sold Puerto Rico to China as debt relief.[22][6] Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Diaz, author of Drown and the short fantasy story "Monstro", has noted that colonialism's roots in Caribbean culture involve fantasy, sci-fi, zombies, monsters, and aliens.[22][28] Mexican-American author Rudy Ruiz has written dystopian sci-fi and magical realism works addressing social issues related to immigration, borders, social justice and machismo.[29]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Aparicio, Frances R. (1999). "Reading the "Latino" in Latino Studies: Toward Re-imagining Our Academic Location". Discourse. 21 (3): 3–18. ISSN 1522-5321. JSTOR 41389542.
  2. ^ a b The Oxford Handbook of Latino Studies. Oxford Handbooks. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press. 2020-03-17. ISBN 978-0-19-069120-2.
  3. ^ Francisco Cantú (April 5, 2020). "In Her First Adult Novel in 14 Years, Julia Alvarez Travels Home". New York Times.
  4. ^ Paredes, Raymund A. (1978). Special Feature: The Evolution of Chicano Literature. MELUS. Vol. 5. pp. 71–110. doi:10.2307/467466. ISSN 0163-755X. JSTOR 467466.
  5. ^ González, Christopher (2017). Permissible narratives : the promise of Latino/a literature. Columbus. ISBN 978-0-8142-1350-6. OCLC 975447664.
  6. ^ a b Riofrio, John (2020-03-01). Falling for debt: Giannina Braschi, the Latinx avant-garde, and financial terrorism in the United States of Banana. Latino Studies. Vol. 18. pp. 66–81. doi:10.1057/s41276-019-00239-2. ISSN 1476-3443.
  7. ^ Cruz-Malavé, Arnaldo Manuel (2014). Under the Skirt of Liberty: Giannina Braschi Rewrites Empire. American Quarterly. Vol. 66. pp. 801–818. doi:10.1353/aq.2014.0042. ISSN 0003-0678. JSTOR 43823431. S2CID 144702640.
  8. ^ a b The Norton anthology of Latino literature. Stavans, Ilan., Acosta-Belén, Edna. (1st ed.). New York: W.W. Norton & Co. 2011. ISBN 978-0-393-08007-0. OCLC 607322888.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  9. ^ Pérez, Rolando (2020-05-07). Stavans, Ilan (ed.). "The Bilingualisms of Latino/a Literatures". The Oxford Handbook of Latino Studies. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190691202.001.0001. ISBN 9780190691202. Retrieved 2020-08-25.
  10. ^ "Cuban-American Literature". obo. Retrieved 2020-08-25.
  11. ^ Nuccetelli, Susana (2020-05-07). Stavans, Ilan (ed.). "Latino Philosophy". The Oxford Handbook of Latino Studies. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190691202.001.0001. ISBN 9780190691202. Retrieved 2020-08-25.
  12. ^ Mignucci, Melanie. "This Latinx Poet's Debut Novel is a Must-Read for Second-Gen Kids". Teen Vogue. Retrieved 2020-08-25.
  13. ^ THE OTHER HALF OF HAPPY | Kirkus Reviews.
  14. ^ Moreno, Marisel; Anderson, Thomas F.; Alarcón, Daniel (2014). ""I am an American Writer": An Interview with Daniel Alarcón". MELUS. 39 (4): 186–206. doi:10.1093/melus/mlu041. ISSN 0163-755X. JSTOR 24569937. S2CID 161423291.
  15. ^ Vafidis, Jen. "The Anatomy of a Cheater: Junot Diaz's "This Is How You Lose Her"". Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved 2020-10-12.
  16. ^ a b "Bless Me, Ultima". Retrieved 2020-10-24.
  17. ^ Gonzalez, Jose (2006). Latino Boom. Pearson.
  18. ^ "Claudia Castro Luna". Academy of American Poets.
  19. ^ "Leticia Hernandez". Academy of American Poets.
  20. ^ "The Wandering Song: Central American Writing in the United States". Tia Chucha Press.
  21. ^ Henriquez, Christina. "Christina Henriquez is the author of The Book of Unknown Americans, The World in Half, and Come Together, Fall Apart: A Novella and Stories". Panamanian-American Authors U.S. Readers Need to Know.
  22. ^ a b c d Latinx rising : an anthology of Latinx science fiction and fantasy. Goodwin, Matthew David, Aldama, Frederick Luis, 1969-. Columbus. 2020. p. 164. OCLC 1157344767.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  23. ^ LATIN@ RISING | Kirkus Reviews.
  24. ^ Aldama, Frederick Luis (2016). Latinx comic book storytelling : an odyssey by interview. Padilla, Ricardo, Fernández l'Hoeste, Héctor D., 1962-, González, Christopher (First ed.). San Diego, CA. ISBN 978-1-938537-92-9. OCLC 973339575.
  25. ^ "Latino Film & Comic Book Scholar Dr. Christopher González: "21st-Century Latino Identity and Experience in Film and Fiction" | Event Calendar | Amherst College". Retrieved 2020-10-12. necessary excursions into the realm of the impossible resonate so powerfully in our 21st-century realities
  26. ^ Shapiro, Lila (2018-06-14). "Misogyny Is Boring As Hell". Vulture. Retrieved 2020-10-12.
  27. ^ Aldama, Frederick Luis (2020). Poets, philosophers, lovers: on the writings of Giannina Braschi. Stavans,Ian; O'Dwyer, Tess. Pittsburgh, Pa.: U Pittsburgh. ISBN 978-0-8229-4618-2. OCLC 1143649021.
  28. ^ "A Planetary Warning?: The Multilayered Caribbean Zombie in "Monstro" | Junot Díaz and the Decolonial Imagination | Books Gateway | Duke University Press". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  29. ^ Jessi Rae Morton (December 27, 2021). ""The Resurrection of Fulgencio Ramirez" Is A Bildungsroman Filled with Magic, Curses, and Star-Crossed Love". Southern Review of Books.