Hola Amigos! Reads for National Hispanic Heritage Month 2021

The Hispanic population of the United States as of July 1, 2019, numbers 60.6 million, making people of Hispanic origin the nation’s largest ethnic or racial minority. Hispanics constitute 18.5% of the nation’s total population, as per the U.S. Census Bureau.

September 15 to October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month, a time to pay tribute to the generations of Hispanic Americans tracing their roots to Spain, Mexico, Central America, South American and the Spanish-speaking nations of the Caribbean who have positively influenced and enriched our nation and society.  September 15 is a historically significant day that marks the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. The designated period is also a nod to those from Mexico and Chile, which celebrate their independence on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively.

In celebration of their special histories, cultures and contributions here are some fiction titles by Hispanic authors and/or about Hispanic characters, all available with your Livingston Public Library card.

Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat

Set in locales from Miami and Port-au-Prince to a small unnamed country in the Caribbean and beyond, here are eight emotionally absorbing stories, rich with hard-won wisdom and humanity. At once wide in scope and intimate, they explore with quiet power and elegance the forces that pull us together or drive us apart, sometimes in the same searing instant.

Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin

A young woman named Amanda lies dying in a rural hospital clinic. A boy named David sits beside her. She’s not his mother. He’s not her child. Together, they tell a haunting story of broken souls, toxins, and the power and desperation of family. One of the freshest new voices to come out of the Spanish language and translated into English for the first time, Samanta Schweblin creates an aura of strange psychological menace and otherworldly reality in this absorbing, unsettling, taut novel.

The Five Wounds by Kirstin Valdez Quade

From an award-winning storyteller comes a stunning debut novel about a New Mexican family’s extraordinary year of love and sacrifice. It’s Holy Week in the small town of Las Penas, New Mexico, and thirty-three-year-old unemployed Amadeo Padilla has been given the part of Jesus in the Good Friday procession. He is preparing feverishly for this role when his fifteen-year-old daughter Angel shows up pregnant on his doorstep and disrupts his plans. Their reunion sets her own life down a startling path.

Fruit Of The Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras

Set in Colombia at the height Pablo Escobar’s violent reign and inspired by Ingrid’s own life, this book is told through the alternating perspectives of Chula, a wealthy seven-year-old girl who’s just beginning to realize the world around her, and Petrona, a poverty-stricken young maid working for Chula’s family. The two coming-of-age stories are very different, but linked in a way that’s absolutely breathtaking.

Hades, Argentina by Daniel Loedel

In 1976, Tomás Orilla is a medical student in Buenos Aires, where he has moved in hopes of reuniting with Isabel, a childhood crush. But the reckless passion that has long drawn him is leading Isabel ever deeper into the ranks of the insurgency fighting an increasingly oppressive regime.

Infinite Country by Patricia Engel

Rich with Bogotá urban life, steeped in Andean myth, and tense with the daily reality of the undocumented in America, this is the story of two countries and one mixed-status family–for whom every triumph is stitched with regret, and every dream pursued bears the weight of a dream deferred.

The King Is Always Above The People : Stories by Daniel Alarcon

A slyly political collection of stories about immigration, broken dreams, Los Angeles gang members, Latin American families, and other tales of high stakes journeys by a Peruvian American author.  The people featured in this collection bring to light the Latin American experience in a way that is wholly original, empathetic—and daring.

A Long Petal Of The Sea by Isabel Allende

Translated from the Spanish by Nick Caistor and Amanda Hopkinson

This epic novel spanning decades and crossing continents follows two young people as they flee the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War in search of a place to call home. A masterful work of historical fiction about hope, exile, and belonging.

Lost Children Archive  by Valeria Luiselli

A fiercely imaginative novel about a family’s summer road trip across America–a journey that, with breathtaking imagery, spare lyricism, and profound humanity, probes the nature of justice and equality in America today.  Told through the voices of the mother and her son, as well as through a stunning tapestry of collected texts and images–including prior stories of migration and displacement–this is a story of how we document our experiences, and how we remember the things that matter to us the most.

Of Women And Salt by Gabriela Garcia

A sweeping, masterful debut about a daughter’s fateful choice, a mother motivated by her own past, and a family legacy that begins in Cuba before either of them were born.  Presented in 12 chapters that read more like interlinked stories, Garcia channels her Miami-based Cuban-Mexican American heritage into five generations of a Cuban American matriarchy.

The Posthumous Memoirs Of Brás Cubas by Machado de Assis

A revelatory new translation of the playful, incomparable masterpiece of one of the greatest black authors in the Americas. The mixed-race grandson of ex-slaves, Assis is not only Brazil’s most celebrated writer but also a writer of world stature, who has been championed by the likes of Philip Roth, Susan Sontag, Allen Ginsburg, John Updike, and Salman Rushdie. In this masterpiece, the ghost of a decadent and disagreeable aristocrat decides to write his memoir. He dedicates it to the worms gnawing at his corpse and, in 160 brief chapters, tells of his failed romances and halfhearted political ambitions, serves up harebrained philosophies, and complains with gusto from the depths of his grave. 

The President And The Frog by Carolina De Robertis

At his modest home on the edge of town, the former president of an unnamed Latin American country receives a journalist in his famed gardens to discuss his legacy and the dire circumstances that threaten democracy around the globe. Once known as the Poorest President in the World, his reputation is the stuff of myth: a former guerilla who was jailed for inciting revolution before becoming the face of justice, human rights, and selflessness for his nation.

Sabrina & Corina : Stories by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

Latinas of indigenous descent living in the American West take center stage in this haunting debut story collection—a powerful meditation on friendship, mothers and daughters, and the deep-rooted truths of our homelands.

Songs For The Flames : Stories Juan Gabriel Vásquez; translated from the Spanish by Anne McLean

The characters in these morally complex tales are men and women touched by violence — sometimes directly, sometimes only in passing — but whose lives are changed forever, consumed by fire, and by unexpected encounters and unyielding forces. A photographer becomes obsessed with the traumatic past that an elegant woman, a fellow guest staying at a countryside ranch, would rather leave behind. A military reunion forces a soldier to confront a troubling history, both personal and on a larger scale. And in a tour de force piece, the search for a book leads a writer to the fascinating story of why a woman is buried next to a graveyard, rather than in it — and the remarkable account of her journey from France to Colombia as a child orphan.

Then Come Back : The Lost Neruda by Pablo Neruda 

Originally composed on napkins, playbills, receipts, and notebooks, Neruda’s lost poems are full of eros and heartache, complex wordplay and deep wonder. Translated by Forrest Gander and presented with the Spanish text, full-color reproductions of handwritten poems, and dynamic English translations, this volume simultaneously completes and advances the oeuvre of the world’s most beloved poet.

Things We Lost In The Fire : Stories by Mariana Enriquez

A haunting collection of short stories all set in Argentina

The Undocumented Americans : A Homecoming by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio

One of the first undocumented immigrants to graduate from Harvard reveals the hidden lives of her fellow undocumented Americans in this deeply personal and groundbreaking portrait of a nation.

Velvet Was The Night by  Silvia Moreno-Garcia

 A riveting noir about a daydreaming secretary, a lonesome thug, and the mystery of the missing woman that brings them together. 

-Archana, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian

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