It’s Hispanic Heritage Month. To celebrate, we’re highlighting some of our favorite authors who shaped conversations and elevated voices from the Hispanic community.
Say hi to one of Gabriel García Márquez’s other famous books. This novella follows a journalist who returns to Colombia, 20-something years after a murder. Plot twist: most townspeople knew about the murder plot in advance, and the narrator is left to wonder why no one stopped it. What results is a meditation on social hierarchies, honor, and guilt in the most masterful Márquez way.
You get a book and you get a book. Oprah named Santiago’s book on her “Best Memoirs of a Generation” list and we know why. It’s a universal coming-of-age story nestled in the specific story about Santiago, as she journeys with her family from Puerto Rico to Brooklyn, and eventually on to Harvard. This one’s famous for its vivid descriptions of Santiago’s life in Puerto Rico barrios and later, living as an immigrant in NY.
Take these for a whirl. Neruda’s poems, originally published in Spanish in 1924, are hailed for their frankness about love and eroticism. They catapulted Neruda to international fame and led Gabriel García Márquez to call him "the greatest poet of the twentieth century — in any language.” Casual.
Welcome to Isabel Allende’s world. You know her as the writer famous for her spirited worlds and colorful character descriptions. (Her books have been translated into more than 30 languages.) In this one – her first book – she tells the story of the Trueba family and multi-generational tragedies that plague them during a time of political unrest. Together, they face revolutions, class conflicts, and a forbidden love affair.
Butterfly fly away. Twenty five years after its debut, people still aren’t done talking about this book. Alvarez, who also wrote, “How the García Girls Lost Their Accents,” famously based this novel on the Mirabal sisters in the Domincan Republic. The plot, in the historical fiction novel, centers on the sisters’ fight against the Trujillo dictatorship which resulted in their deaths.
Try stepping in Francisco Cantú’s shoes. After being raised along the Southwest border by his mother, a park ranger, he sets out to get the real-life, beyond-the-books understanding of where he came from...by becoming a US Border Patrol agent. This memoir is him processing allllll the complexities that came with his decision to join Border Patrol and his ultimate decision to leave the agency. It’s intimate and timely, and sheds a nuanced light on what life at the border looks like.
Start getting real. Grande’s memoir tells the other side of the immigration story – that of the children left behind. The book dives into her childhood after her parents made the journey across the Mexican border into the US to build a better life for her family. After years of living without her parents in Mexico, Grande makes the journey to the US. herself and documents the struggles she faced upon arriving there and reuniting with her father.
This one’s about celebrating the people. In it, the dying patriarch of the de La Cruz family, calls together his family for one last birthday party in San Diego. But days before the wild celebrations are set to begin, tragedy strikes for the grandmother, and the giant celebration turns into a spirited funeral. The book is inspired by his real life Mexican-American family, and is as heartwarming and poignant as it comes.
Try this out for taste. Dramatic love story? Check. A woman whose recipes have special powers? Check. Esquivel’s novel beautifully interlaces Mexican cooking recipes with the story of Tita De la Garza as she takes care of her ailing mother and finds herself in a messy romantic situation. To cope, she cooks. And every time she does, Tita – in a feat of magical realism – literally transfers some of her emotions into her food. The novel was loved by audiences and turned into a movie. Digestible AF right?
The del Pino’s family can relate. García’s novel tells the story of a Cuban family’s life in exile during the revolution. It follows three generations of women in Cuba and showcases the consequences of political tension on everyday civilians. The New York Times review called it “dazzling” when it debuted and we can understand why.
PS: These are editorially selected, but if you purchase, theSkimm may get something in return. Thanks.
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Ruth Guerra worked in public affairs and communications all over DC. Read up on what Hispanic Heritage Month means to her in this One-on-One with theSkimm.
She juggles a full-time day job and two side hustles