Latina Authors Every Latina Should Know

In schools across the U.S, books by Latina authors are often overlooked. The reading list of assigned classics rarely include books from Latina authors even though their writing has gained significant momentum. These 10 Latina authors you should look out for.  These are authors whose writing we can identify with. Their books allow us to relate with their plots or heroines, and we can see our experiences and traditions on the pages. It cultivates a sense of pride in ourselves to see Latinas, and in this case Latina authors, succeed and our heritages become acknowledged. Check out this list of talented Latina authors and their most notable books!

1. Christina Garcia is a half -Cuban and half -Guatemalan author. Her most notable work is Dreaming in Cuban, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. Dreaming in Cuban tells the story of three generations of Cuban women and the effects that migration had on them. It shows us another Latina experience that is more common than we think of what it is like when knowing about your roots  and culture is denied to you.

2.Sandra Cisneros is a Mexican-American writer with many notable awards under her belt, such as the American Book Award and Clay McDaniel Fellowship. Although she is mostly known for the House on Mango Street, her semi-autobiographical book Caramelo is just as marvelous as her earlier books. In Caramelo, we receive a portrait of the formation of a bi-cultural identity of the Cecilia. We follow her and family as they travel from Chicago, Illinois, to Mexico for the summer where family secrets and lies are revealed.

3. Denise Chavez won the Hispanic Heritage Awards and the Premio Aztlan Literary award. Her novel Loving Pedro Infante is set in New Mexico. She uses the Mexican Icon Pedro Infante to explore the themes of identity and gender roles in her novel by making her heroine Tere Avila a Pedro Infante fan. It gives us a valuable insight into stereotypes or beliefs perpetrated by mainstream media like movies.

4. Sandra Rodriguez Barron has won the International Latino Book Award for debut fiction for her mysterious novel The Heiress of Water tells the story of Monica Winters a half Salvadoran and half American girl. Monica is forced out of El Salvador, the country she grew up in, to move to the U.S. after loosing her mother. After many years later, she returns. Upon returning she has to confront her past, the death her mother, with the scientific discoveries made by her mother.

5. Laura Esquivel is a Mexican author highly praised for her novel Like Water for Chocolate, which won the Abby Award. Although not written by a U.S. Latina, we can still identify with the young Tita De la Garza who, because of tradition must repress her true desires and feelings. It’s inspirational to watch Tita go from a submissive girl to a girl who refuses to remain silent. It’s a story about expressing yourself and finding your voice.

6.Esmeralda Santiago was Puerto Rican born and moved to the U.S. at the age of 13. She speaks of this experience in her memoir When I Was Puerto Rican. Her book explores the common theme of identity and her struggles with learning a new language—English. In her book, she shares the prejudices she encountered and the new bi-cultural idendity she formed. Esmeralda has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Alex Award and Peabody Award.

7. Ana Castillo, a Mexican-American, is the winner of the Sor Juana Achievement Award. She is recognized for the creation of the Chicana telenovela So Far from God. The novel is set in a border town in New Mexico, giving a depiction of both Mexican and American traditions and cultures. The novel is combined with magic realism to tell the story of Sofia and how she becomes empowered despite the hardships she endured and the daughters she lost.

8. Julia Alvarez was born in New York, but raised in the Dominican Republic. She has won the Hispanic Heritage Award in literature. The book that brought her prominence is How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent, often dubbed the Latina version of Little Women. It tells the story of 4 Dominican girls who, out of political reasons must relocate in the U.S. As the title suggests, these girls try to loose their “accents” in other words they try to fit in with the “American” culture and as a result encounter cultural clashes with their parents.

9. Angie Cruz is a Dominican-American author who spent many years traveling to and from the U.S. and Dominican Republic. Her book Soledad tells the story of Soledad who is desperate to get away from the barrio she grew up in. She does achieve this and becomes an art major college student, but due to her mother’s illness she must return to and face the barrio she wanted to escape.

10.Sandra Benitez is half Puerto Rican. Her book Bitter Grounds garnered her not only praise, but the American Book Award. The novel is set in El Salvador in 1932 and tells the story of Mercedes a Pipil Indian woman who loses most of her family in an uprising. We follow three generations of women whose difficulties did not bog them down, but they remain sustained and strong.


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