National Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 to October 15. It is a celebration of the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
We invite you to visit Smiley Library and check out our wide selection of both fiction and nonfiction books celebrating the richness of Hispanic heritage. Here are a few of our favorites.
Quiara Alegría Hudes’ new memoir, My Broken Language, tells her story of growing up with a white atheist father and Lukumí practicing Puerto Rican mother in West Philadelphia. “Qui Qui” grew up fascinated by her mother’s extended family, but confused about where she fit in. The family would alternate between speaking English and Spanish depending on whether her father was at home, resulting in Hude’s titular “broken language.” Hudes describes her lifelong obsession with language and music, which culminated with her attending Yale and Brown Universities and becoming a renowned playwright. This book is a joyous and thoughtful examination of identity, belonging, and community.
Gordo, a collection of short stories by Jaime Cortez, takes us into the world of a teenage son of migrant workers in California’s Central Valley during the 1970s. In each story, Gordo navigates between his two worlds – middle school and the fields. Along the way, he wrestles with bullying, body issues, and homophobia. Gordo is whip-smart and kind, but also painfully aware that he doesn’t meet the cultural expectations of Mexican-American men, much to the disdain of his father and classmates. The stories in this coming-of-age tale run the gamut from sweetly funny to heartbreaking. Gordo is a character who will touch your heart and stay on your mind long after closing the book.
Horizontal Vertigo: A City Called Mexico, written by Juan Villoro and translated by Alfred J. MacAdam, explores the vast history of Mexico City, where Villoro was born and raised. His essays combine history, personal memories, and observations about the sprawling shape of the city, which was built horizontally because of the earthquakes that have racked the area through the ages. Throughout its complex history, Mexico City has earned its reputation as both a dangerous landscape and a thriving metropolis. Villoro expertly takes the reader through the city with a personal touch. If you enjoy reading about travel and history, you’ll be sure to enjoy this one.
Fans of magical realism will enjoy The President and the Frog by Carolina De Robertis. This novel tells the story of the aging former president of a Latin American country (the actual country is not revealed) who is interviewed by a reporter about his history of leading his country out of violence and into peacefulness. Once a tyrannical guerrilla fighter, the former president reveals that he discovered the path to peaceful leadership while in solitary confinement as a political prisoner with only a boisterous, talkative frog for company. Perhaps this talking frog was real and perhaps he wasn’t, but it doesn’t actually matter, as the president credits him with teaching him the way out of darkness. De Robertis’ lyrical prose, deep with symbolism that rings true in these troubled times, is sure to captivate you.
All these books and more can be found in the new book section. We also have many books in Spanish in our world languages collection. Come on by and take a look!
For more of our books, new and older, examining Hispanic heritage themes, please see our National Hispanic Heritage Month reading list.