Latinos in English: A Selected Bibliography of Latino Fiction Writers of the United States

Latinos in English: A Selected Bibliography of Latino Fiction Writers of the United States

Latinos in English: A Selected Bibliography of Latino Fiction Writers of the United States

Latinos in English: A Selected Bibliography of Latino Fiction Writers of the United States

Excerpt

¿Cómo puede seguir uno viviendo con dos lenguas, dos casas, dos nostalgias, dos tentaciones, dos melancolías?

Heberto Padilla, "Postcard to USA"

During an interview, Sandra Cisneros, the Chicana author of The House on Mango Street (1984), once said that her beginning as a writer came about when she couldn't see herself in the novels and stories she was reading. Indeed, often seen as drug dealers, criminals, and ne'er-do-wells, Hispanics are rarely portrayed in a verisimilar way. Fortunately, she and others like the Dominican novelist Julia Alvarez and the Cuban writer Virgil Suarez are changing the literary spectrum. They are producing inspired fiction about day-to-day life with a cast of simple people, or creating larger-than-life heroes and villains with universal resonances. But their literature, an emerging new voice in U.S. letters, can also be seen as a complex portrait of a people torn between two loyalties, a Hispanic background in an Anglo milieu -- salamanders (axolotls, as Julio Cortázar would call them) trying to come to terms with a split identity. As Chicano intellectual Ernesto Galarza, author of Barrio Boy (1971), once said, the artist, raised in one world and inhabiting another "is like every one of his fellowmen, but with an abundance of self-image and an ambition to communicate" -- a hybrid, a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of sorts.

The U.S. Hispanic population has increased at an amazing rate in the past decade -- to a total of some 25 million according to the 1990 census report -- making it the second fastest-growing ethnic group after Asians. One result is a growth in political and economic empowerment. The division experienced in the group's collective self is a consequence not only of daily contact with the English-speaking community but of the heterogeneity of the Hispanic constituency. Contrary to the picture painted by Hollywood media and White House politicians, this ethnic minority is not a unity but a sum of parts.

The Chicanos are the largest subgroup of Hispanics: 13.3 million . . .

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