Literature, as critic Stephen Greenblatt says, stands as an important “creature and a creator of culture.” This book is an effort to capture different Latino cultures through the literature of the eight authors included here. The reader can discover Latino communities and their culture across the United States by reading the literary production emerging from Latino communities. Autobiography, poetry, novels, short stories, and essays of Latino literature provide a detailed slice of life that can sometimes be radically different from the reader’s own world. Literature is one of those unique forms of cultural production that allows the individual to travel without leaving the confines of his or her home, and a social record that marks different periods, issues, conflicts, and celebrations of any given person or peoples. Without literature, we would not have such a record from which to learn.
Each novel contains infinite possibilities that segue into cultural aspects students might enjoy exploring. The Trujillo dictatorship, the Mexican-American War, the Castro revolution, Spanish Harlem, Little Havana, Washington Heights, la frontera, the Nuyorican Poets’ Cafe, espiritismo, santería, curanderas, la Virgen de Guadalupe, La Llorona, mambo and salsa, Spanish and Spanglish. Ideas about history, religion, music, cultural myths, geographical spaces, and politics are all found in these novels that offer many themes for students to investigate. Opportunities for compare and contrast papers abound. One can compare and contrast the Virgin Mary with la Virgen de Guadalupe, or the portrayal of la Virgen in the works of Anaya versus that in the works of Cisneros, who plays with the passive yet forgiv-