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Latinx (Latino/Latina) Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 through October 15. Let's honor Latinx history and heritage by reading a diverse group of authors, and poets who have helped shape literature and culture.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Venezuelan writer and journalist Gabriel Garcia Marquez was perhaps one of the most famous Latin American writers in the world. He was on the vanguard of the Latin American literary boom of the 1960s and helped pioneer magical realism, a defining feature of many works of Latin American and postcolonial literature. In 1982, Marquez was honored with the Nobel Prize for Literature for “his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent’s life and conflicts.”
Major works: “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” “Chronicle of a Death Foretold,” “Love in the Time of Cholera”
Sandra Cisneros is a Mexican-American writer who helped helped bring attention to the modern Chicano literary movement of the 80s and 90s. Cisneros often draws on her own experiences as someone who grew up between cultures and her work tackles themes of femininity, sexuality, cultural hybridity, and social and economic inequality. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and the MacArthur Genius Grant.
Major works: “The House on Mango Street,” “Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories”
In addition to being the Mexican ambassador to France from 1975 to 1977, Carlos Fuentes managed to become one of his country’s most celebrated novelists. His works detail large, complex histories in the Hispanic world and profess a deep belief in the human spirit. Though he was often considered a Nobel Prize favorite, he never won; however, he was the recipient of other important awards in his life, including the Miguel de Cervantes Prize and the Belisario Dominguez Medal of Honor.
Major works: “The Death of Artemio Cruz”
Gloria Anzaldua was an important figure in the development of introducing Chicano/a studies to Critical Race Studies and Women’s Studies. Anzaldua made it a point to regularly challenge the labels assigned to her by others, seeing herself as someone who sat at the intersection of many, equally valid identities. Her theories about “border culture,” mestiza culture, and bilingualism are enduring features of literary studies courses.
Major works: “La Frontera/Borderlands: The Mestiza”
Isabel Allende is a Chilean writer who writes extensively in the magical realist genre. Her works tell important stories about the experience of Latin American women and have found success worldwide. Allende is a shining example of a writer who has found both commercial and critical success and a towering figure in the world of Latin American literature.
Major works: “House of the Spirits”
Jorge Luis Borges
Argentinian short storyist, essayist, translator, and poet is often credited with bringing international attention to Spanish-language literature. Blind by the age of fifty-five, Borges innovated new ways to write symbolism and imagery, drawing on a diverse range of subjects such as modernism, mathematics, and philosophy. He is considered the originator of magical realism as a literary style
Major works: “Ficciones,” “Labyrinths”
Juan Felipe Herrera
The fifty-first United States Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera was America’s first Chicano poet laureate. His works often meditate on his history as a child of migrant workers. He is interested in the intersection of community and art and much of his poetry considers what it means to be on the border of U.S. and Mexican culture.
Major works: “Half the World in Light”
American poet Aracelis Girmay confronts themes of connection, transformation, and loss across cities and bodies in her poetry. The Boston Globe named her book, Black Maria, as one of the best books of 2016. A graduate of Connecticut College, Girmay went on to receive her MFA from New York University.
Major works: “Kingdom Animalia”
Elizabeth Acevedo is an Afro-Dominican slam poet whose poetry addresses themes of sex, queerness, identity, and Catholicism. She came out with debut young adult novel, The Poet X, earlier this year, which was longlisted for the National Book Award. She has performed her poetry all over the world, from Kosovo to South Africa, Madison Square Gardens to Lincoln Center.
Major works: “The Poet X”
Puerto Rican-American performer, writer, rapper Lin-Manuel Miranda was launched to global superstardom when “Hamilton” hit the Broadway stage, but it was “In the Heights,” a musical about a Hispanic-American community in Washington Heights, New York, that earned him his first Tony. He has since gone on to win multiple Grammys, an Emmy, the Pulitzer Prize, and Oscar nomination for a variety of works. Miranda is also an outspoken advocate for Puerto Rican-American and Latinx rights.
Major Works: “In the Heights,” “Hamilton”