Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month
In 1988, National Hispanic Heritage Month was enacted into law under President Ronald Reagan. September 15 – October 15 is an opportunity to celebrate the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. Celebrate by checking out our prior recommendations and this year’s new favorites.
By Paul Ortiz
An intersectional history of the shared struggle for African American and Latinx civil rights
Spanning more than two hundred years, An African American and Latinx History of the United States is a revolutionary, politically charged revisionist history, arguing that Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa—otherwise known as “The Global South”—were crucial to the development of America as we know it. Ortiz challenges the notion of westward progress, as exalted by widely-taught formulations like “Manifest Destiny” and “Jacksonian Democracy,” and shows how placing African American, Latinx, and Indigenous voices unapologetically front and center transforms American history into one of the working class organizing themselves against imperialism.
In precise detail, Ortiz traces this untold history from the Jim Crow-esque racial segregation of the Southwest, the rise and violent fall of a powerful tradition of Mexican labor organizing in the 20th century, to May 1, 2006, International Workers’ Day, when migrant laborers—Chicana/os, Afrocubanos, and immigrants from every continent on earth—united in the first “Day Without Immigrants” to prove the value of their labor.
Incisive and timely, An African American and Latinx History is a bottom-up history told from the viewpoint of African American and Latinx activists revealing the radically different ways that brown and black people of the diaspora addressed issues plaguing the United States today.
By William Pérez
Americans by Heart examines the plight of undocumented Latino students as they navigate the educational and legal tightrope presented by their immigration status. Many of these students are accepted to attend some of our best colleges and universities but cannot afford the tuition to do so because they are not eligible for financial aid or employment. For the few that defy the odds and manage to graduate, their status continues to present insurmountable barriers to employment.
This timely and compelling account brings to light the hard work and perseverance of these students and their families, their commitment to education and civic participation, and their deep sense of uncertainty and marginality. Offering a rich in-depth analysis, the author presents a new framework for educational policies that recognizes the merit and potential of undocumented Latino students and links their situation to larger social and policy issues of immigration reform and higher education access.
By José Esteban Muñoz
The Sense of Brown is José Esteban Muñoz’s treatise on brownness and being as well as his most direct address to queer Latinx studies. In this book, which he was completing at the time of his death, Muñoz examines the work of playwrights Ricardo Bracho and Nilo Cruz, artists Nao Bustamante, Isaac Julien, and Tania Bruguera, and singer José Feliciano, among others, arguing for a sense of brownness that is not fixed within the racial and national contours of Latinidad. This sense of brown is not about the individualized brown subject; rather, it demonstrates that for brown peoples, being exists within what Muñoz calls the brown commons—a lifeworld, queer ecology, and form of collectivity. In analyzing minoritarian affect, ethnicity as a structure of feeling, and brown feelings as they emerge in, through, and beside art and performance, Muñoz illustrates how the sense of brown serves as the basis for other ways of knowing and being in the world.
By Luisa Capetillo
In 1915, Puerto Rican activist Luisa Capetillo was arrested and acquitted for being the first woman to wear men’s trousers publicly. While this act of gender-nonconforming rebellion elevated her to feminist icon status in modern pop culture, it also overshadowed the significant contributions she made to the women’s movement and anarchist labor movements of the early twentieth century–both in her native Puerto Rico and in the migrant labor belt in the eastern United States. With the volume A Nation of Women, Capetillo’s socialist and feminist activism is given the spotlight it deserves with its inclusion of the first English translation of Capetillo’s landmark Mi opinión sobre las libertades, derechos y deberes de la mujer. Originally published in Spanish in 1911, Mi opinión is considered by many to be the first feminist treatise in Puerto Rico and one of the first in Latin America and the Caribbean. In concise prose, Capetillo advocates a workers’ revolution, forcefully demanding an end to the exploitation and subordination of workers and women. Her essays challenge big business in favor of socialism, call for legalizing divorce and the acceptance of “free love” in relationships, and cover topics such as sexuality, mental and physical health, hygiene, spirituality, and nutrition. At once a sharp critique and a celebration of the gathering fervor of world politics, A Nation of Women embraces the humanistic thinking of the early twentieth century and envisions a world in which economic and social structures can be broken down, allowing both the worker and the woman to be free.
By Rudolfo Anaya
“I am continually thinking stories,” writes Rudolfo Anaya. “Even when I am working on a novel, the images for stories keep coming.”
Considered by many to be the founder of modern Chicano literature, Rudolfo Anaya, best known for Bless Me, Ultima and other novels, has also authored a number of remarkable short stories. Now for the first time, these stories, representing thirty years of Anaya’s writing, have been collected into a single volume. They constitute the best and most essential collection of Anaya’s short story work.
Unlike his novels, which range broadly over the American tapestry, Anaya’s short stories focus on character and ethical questions in a regional setting—from the harsh deserts of the American Southwest and northern Mexico to the lush tropical forests of Uxmal in the Yucatán. These tales demonstrate Anaya’s singular attitude toward fiction: that stories create myths to live and love by. “In the end the story has to speak for itself,” Anaya writes. “Its purpose can be studied, but never fully known.”
With The Man Who Could Fly and Other Stories, the reader ventures deeply into the world of Rudolfo Anaya, a world of magic, mystery, harsh realities, and redemption.
By Isabel Allende
In one of the most important and beloved Latin American works of the twentieth century, Isabel Allende weaves a luminous tapestry of three generations of the Trueba family, revealing both triumphs and tragedies. Here is patriarch Esteban, whose wild desires and political machinations are tempered only by his love for his ethereal wife, Clara, a woman touched by an otherworldly hand. Their daughter, Blanca, whose forbidden love for a man Esteban has deemed unworthy infuriates her father, yet will produce his greatest joy: his granddaughter Alba, a beautiful, ambitious girl who will lead the family and their country into a revolutionary future.
The House of the Spirits is an enthralling saga that spans decades and lives, twining the personal and the political into an epic novel of love, magic, and fate.
By Sandra Cisneros
Acclaimed by critics, beloved by readers of all ages, taught everywhere from inner-city grade schools to universities across the country, and translated all over the world, The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero.
Told in a series of vignettes – sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous–it is the story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Few other books in our time have touched so many readers.
By Mariana Enríquez
Welcome to Buenos Aires, a city thrumming with murderous intentions and morbid desires, where missing children come back from the dead and unearthed bones carry terrible curses. These brilliant, unsettling tales of revenge, witchcraft, fetishes, disappearances and urban madness spill over with women and girls whose dark inclinations will lead them over the edge.
Children’s and Young Adult Literature
By Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Dante can swim. Ari can’t. Dante is articulate and self-assured. Ari has a hard time with words and suffers from self-doubt. Dante gets lost in poetry and art. Ari gets lost in thoughts of his older brother who is in prison. Dante is fair skinned. Ari’s features are much darker. It seems that a boy like Dante, with his open and unique perspective on life, would be the last person to break down the walls that Ari has built around himself.
But against all odds, when Ari and Dante meet, they develop a special bond that will teach them the most important truths of their lives, and help define the people they want to be. But there are big hurdles in their way, and only by believing in each other―and the power of their friendship―can Ari and Dante emerge stronger on the other side.
By Elizabeth Acevedo
Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.
But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about.
With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself. So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out. But she still can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.
Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.
By Matt de la Peña
“Sometimes when you’re surrounded by dirt, CJ, you’re a better witness for what’s beautiful.”
CJ begins his weekly bus journey around the city with disappointment and dissatisfaction, wondering why he and his family can’t drive a car like his friends. Through energy and encouragement, CJ’s nana helps him see the beauty and fun in their routine.
This beautifully illustrated, emotive picture book explores urban life with honesty, interest and gratitude.
By Meg Medina
Merci Suarez knew that sixth grade would be different, but she had no idea just how different. For starters, Merci has never been like the other kids at her private school in Florida, because she and her older brother, Roli, are scholarship students. They don’t have a big house or a fancy boat, and they have to do extra community service to make up for their free tuition. So when bossy Edna Santos sets her sights on the new boy who happens to be Merci’s school-assigned Sunshine Buddy, Merci becomes the target of Edna’s jealousy. Things aren’t going well at home, either: Merci’s grandfather and most trusted ally, Lolo, has been acting strangely lately — forgetting important things, falling from his bike, and getting angry over nothing. No one in her family will tell Merci what’s going on, so she’s left to her own worries, while also feeling all on her own at school. In a coming-of-age tale full of humor and wisdom, award-winning author Meg Medina gets to the heart of the confusion and constant change that defines middle school — and the steadfast connection that defines family.