Authors with Hispanic roots making it in the US

A recent article by Winston Manrique Sabogal in El País newspaper commented on the growing role of authors of Hispanic origin in the literary scene of the United States. He talks about the earlier periods that made Jewish, Italian, or Black authors part of the canon, and remarks that is it now time for writers with Latin American origins. As a proof for his thesis he comments on the presence of Cuban-American poet Richard Blanco during Obama’s second inauguration, and he reports that these authors still strive to be acknowledged not for their origin but for their works, i.e. solely as writers. The United States, after Mexico, is already the second country in the world as to a Spanish speaking population.

Of the many included in the article as writers, poets, and academics, Manrique names four as accepted by both, the critics and the reading public:

Óscar Hijuelos (NY, 1951), was the first author of Hispanic origin to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1990 for The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. This author of Cuban origin puts his writings into a historical context and feels “a mission to teach Cuban history.”

Junot Díaz (Santo Domingo, 1968), of Dominican origin, won in 2008 the same Pulitzer for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.  At that time Díaz was convinced that “a lot of Americans feel threatened by the advance of Spanish.”

Quiara Alegría Hudes, of Puerto Rican origin, won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Water by the Spoonful, the second part of a trilogy, recent and successfully released in  New York.

Francisco Goldman (Boston, 1954), son of a Guatemalan mother and Jewish-American father, won important prizes for the the essay The Art of Political Murder: Who Killed Bishop Gerardi?.  He assures that “the Latin must not be isolated from the rest of the literary universe, because we simply write contemporary novels based on our experiences.”

 

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