Latino Nonfiction


  • The Latino reader : an American literary tradition from 1542 to the present
    Summary:An anthology of writings by Latino authors, spanning a period from the mid-sixteenth century to the late twentieth-century and including history, memoirs, letters, essays, fiction, poetry, and drama.


  • The Norton anthology of Latino literature
    Summary:This anthology includes the work of 201 Latino writers from Chicano, Puerto Rican, Cuban-American, and Dominican-American traditions, as well as writing from other Spanish-speaking countries. It traces five centuries of writing, from letters to the Spanish crown by sixteenth-century conquistadors to the cutting-edge expressions of twenty-first-century cartoonistas and artists of reggaeton. In six chronological sections, Colonization, Annexation, Acculturation, Upheaval, Into the Mainstream, and Popular Traditions, it encompasses all genres, featuring such writers as Još MartÌ•, William Carlos Williams, Julia Alvarez, Oscar Hijuelos, Cristina GarcÌ•a, Piri Thomas, Esmeralda Santiago, and Junot DÌ•az. It sheds new light on "nuestra America" through a gathering of writing.


  • Allende, Isabel.
    My invented country : a memoir
    Summary:Isabel Allende evokes the magnificent landscapes of her country; a charming, idiosyncratic Chilean people with a violent history and an indomitable spirit, and the politics, religion, myth, and magic of her homeland that she carries with her even today. The book circles around two life-changing moments. The assassination of her uncle Salvador Allende Gossens on September 11, 1973, sent her into exile and transformed her into a literary writer. And the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, on her adopted homeland, the United States, brought forth an overdue acknowledgment that Allende had indeed left home. My Invented Country, mimicking the workings of memory itself, ranges back and forth across that distance between past and present lives. It speaks compellingly to immigrants and to all of us who try to retain a coherent inner life in a world full of contradictions.


  • Allende, Isabel.
    The sum of our days
    Summary:In this memoir, Isabel Allende reconstructs the painful reality of her own life in the wake of tragic loss–the death of her daughter, Paula. Recalling the past thirteen years from the daily letters the author and her mother, who lives in Chile, wrote to each other, Allende … recounts the stories of the wildly eccentric, strong-minded, and eclectic tribe she gathers around her that becomes a new kind of family. Throughout, Allende shares her thoughts on love, marriage, motherhood, spirituality and religion, infidelity, addiction, and memory. Here, too, are the amazing stories behind Allende’s books, the superstitions that guide her writing process, and her adventurous travels.–From amazon.com.


  • Alvarez, Julia.
    Once upon a quinceañera : coming of age in the USA
    Summary:The quinceañera, the fifteenth birthday celebration for a Latina girl, is quickly becoming an American event. This legendary party is a sight to behold: lavish ball gowns, extravagant catered meals, DJs, limousines, and multi-tiered cakes. The must-haves for a "quince" are becoming as numerous and costly as a prom or wedding. And yet, this elaborate ritual also hearkens back to traditions from native countries and communities, offering young Latinas a chance to connect with their heritage. Writer Alvarez explores this celebration that brings a Latina girl into womanhood, attending the quince of a young woman in Queens, and weaving in interviews with other quince girls, her own memories of coming of age as an immigrant, and the history of the custom itself. The result is an enlightening, accessible, and entertaining portrait of contemporary Latino culture.–From publisher description.


  • Alvarez, Julia.
    Something to declare
    Summary:In 24 autobiographical essays, the author presents her Dominican childhood, her family’s immigration to the United States, her college years, writing, marriages, & return trips to her homeland. In her first book of nonfiction, Julia Alvarez takes us behind the scenes and shares the lessons she’s learned on her way to becoming an internationally acclaimed novelist. In 1960, when Alvarez was ten years old, her family fled the Dominican Republic. Her father participated in a failed coup attempt against the dictator Rafael Trujillo, and exile to the United States was the only way to save his life. The family settled in New York City, where Dr. Alvarez set up a medical practice in the Bronx while his wife and four daughters set about the business of assimilation–a lifelong struggle. Loss of her native land, language, culture, and extended family formed the thematic basis for two of Julia Alvarez’s three best-selling novels–How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents and its sequel, Yo! Her father’s revolutionary ties inspired In, The Time Of The Butterflies, her historical novel about one of Trujillo’s most infamous atrocities. Something To Declare offers an extraordinary collection of essays that deal with the two big issues of Alvarez’s life–growing up with one foot in each culture and writing. The twelve essays that make up "Customs," the first of two parts, examine the specific effects of exile on this writer. The essays are personal–how her maternal grandfather passed along his love of the arts, how the nuclear family-in-exile snuggled down every year to watch the Miss America contest from the parental bed, how Julia feared her family might disown her upon publication of her first novel. In the second half, "Declarations," are twelve essays about writing that range from confession of Alvarez’s means of supporting her writing habit to the gritty details of her actual process. Every one of these essays is warm, open, honest, and generous. Something To Declare will appeal not only to her many fans, but to students of writing at all levels.


  • Alvarez, Julia.
    A wedding in Haiti : the story of friendship
    Summary:In this book the author talks about three of her most personal relationships, with her parents, with her husband, and with a young Haitian boy known as Piti. A teenager when she and her husband, Bill, first met him in 2001, Piti crossed the border into the Dominican Republic to find work. Impressed by his courage, charmed by his smile, the author has over the years come to think of him as a son, even promising to be at his wedding someday. When Piti calls in 2009, her promise is tested. To the author, much admired for her ability to lead readers deep inside her native Dominican culture, "Haiti is like a sister I’ve never gotten to know." Here she takes us on a journey into experiences that challenge our way of thinking about history and how it can be reimagined when people from two countries, traditional enemies and strangers, become friends. We follow her across the border into Haiti, once the richest of all the French colonies and now teeters on the edge of the abyss, first for the celebration of a wedding and a year later to find Piti’s loved ones in the devastation of the earthquake. A strong message is packed inside this story, this time about the nature of poverty and of wealth, of human love and of human frailty, of history and of the way we live now.


  • Arenas, Reinaldo
    Before night falls
    Summary:Autobiography of Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas telling of his life as a writer and a homosexual.


  • Cantú, Francisco (Essayist)
    The line becomes a river : dispatches from the border
    Summary:"For Francisco Cantú the border is in the blood: his mother, a park ranger and daughter of a Mexican immigrant, raised him in the scrublands of the Southwest. Haunted by the landscape of his youth, Cantú joins the Border Patrol. He and his partners are posted to remote regions crisscrossed by drug routes and smuggling corridors, where they learn to track other humans under blistering sun and through frigid nights. They haul in the dead and deliver to detention those they find alive. Cantú tries not to think where the stories go from there. Plagued by nightmares, he abandons the Patrol for civilian life. But when an immigrant friend travels to Mexico to visit his dying mother and does not return, Cantú discovers that the border has migrated with him, and now he must know the whole story. Searing and unforgettable, The Line Becomes a River makes urgent and personal the violence our border wreaks on both sides of the line"–


  • Cepeda, Raquel.
    Bird of paradise : how I became Latina
    Summary:An award-winning journalist and documentary filmmaker chronicles her personal year-long journey to discover the truth about her ancestry through DNA testing, sharing her findings as well as her insights into controversies surrounding modern Latino identity.


  • Cisneros, Sandra
    A house of my own : stories from my life
    Summary:"From the Chicago neighborhoods where she grew up and set her groundbreaking The House on Mango Street to her abode in Mexico, in a region where "my ancestors lived for centuries," the places Sandra Cisneros has lived have provided inspiration for her now-classic works of fiction and poetry. But a house of her own, where she could truly take root, has eluded her. With this collection–spanning nearly three decades, and including never-before-published work–Cisneros has come home at last."– Provided by publisher.


  • Escobedo, Elizabeth Rachel.
    From coveralls to zoot suits : the lives of Mexican American women on the World War II home front
    Summary:"During World War II, unprecedented employment avenues opened up for women and minorities in U.S. defense industries at the same time that massive population shifts and the war challenged Americans to rethink notions of race. At this extraordinary historical moment, Mexican American women found new means to exercise control over their lives in the home, workplace, and nation. In From Coveralls to Zoot Suits, Elizabeth R. Escobedo explores how, as war workers and volunteers, dance hostesses and zoot suiters, respectable young ladies and rebellious daughters, these young women used wartime conditions to serve the United States in its time of need and to pursue their own desires. But even after the war, as Escobedo shows, Mexican American women had to continue challenging workplace inequities and confronting family and communal resistance to their broadening public presence. Highlighting seldom heard voices of the "Greatest Generation," Escobedo examines these contradictions within Mexican families and their communities, exploring the impact of youth culture, outside employment, and family relations on the lives of women whose home-front experiences and everyday life choices would fundamentally alter the history of a generation."–Book jacket.


  • Fuentes, Carlos.
    This I believe : an A to Z of a life
    Summary:In this masterly, deeply personal, and provocative book, the internationally renowned Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes, whose work has been called “a combination of Poe, Baudelaire, and Isak Dinesen” (Newsweek), steps back to survey the wellsprings of art and ideology, the events that have shaped our time, and his extraordinary life and fiercest passions. Arranged alphabetically from “Amore” to “Zurich,” This I Believe takes us on a marvelous inner journey with a great writer. Fuentes ranges wide, from contradictions inherent in Latin American culture and politics to his long friendship with director Luis Buñuel. Along the way, we find reflection on the mixed curse and blessing of globalization; memories of a sexual initiation in Zurich; a fond tracing of a family tree heavy with poets, dreamers, and diplomats; evocations of the streets, cafés, and bedrooms of Washington, Paris, Santiago de Chile, Cambridge, Oaxaca, and New York; and a celebration of literary heroes including Balzac, Cervantes, Faulkner, Kafka, and Shakespeare. Throughout, Fuentes captivates with the power of his intellect and his prose.


  • García Márquez, Gabriel
    Living to tell the tale
    Summary:At first glance, Garcia Marquez’s vivid and detailed portrait of his early life appears to be testament to a photographic memory. Yet as he explains in the epigraph, "Life isn’t what one lived, but what one remembers and how one remembers it to tell it."


  • González, Juan
    Harvest of empire : a history of Latinos in America
    Summary:Presents a history of Latinos in America, from the first colonies in the New World through today, and offers portraits of distinguished Americans of Hispanic descent that have played a key role in the evolving face of American life.




  • Hijuelos, Oscar.
    Thoughts without cigarettes : a memoir
    Summary:In his first work of nonfiction, the author writes about the people and places that inspired his previous novels. Born in Manhattan’s Morningside Heights to Cuban immigrants in 1951, he introduces readers to the colorful circumstances of his upbringing. During a sojourn in pre-Castro Cuba with his mother, he catches a disease that sends him into a Dickensian home for terminally ill children. The yearlong stay estranges him from the very language and people he had so loved. With a cast of characters whose stories are both funny and tragic, this work follows the author’s subsequent quest for his true identity into adulthood, through college and beyond, a mystery whose resolution he eventually discovers hidden away in the trappings of his fiction.–From publisher description.


  • Martinez, Domingo
    The boy kings of Texas : a memoir
    Summary:"Domingo Martinez lays bare his interior and exterior worlds as he struggles to make sense of the violent and the ugly, along with the beautiful and the loving. Partly a reflection on the culture of machismo and partly an exploration of the author’s boyhood spent in his sister’s hand-me-down clothes, this book delves into the enduring and complex bond between Martinez and his deeply flawed, but fiercely protective older brother. It features a cast of memorable characters, including his gun-hoarding, former farmhand Gramma and "The Mimi’s," two of his older sisters who for a short, glorious time, manage to transform themselves from poor Latina adolescents into upper-class white girls. Martinez delves into the complicated relationships between extended family and the inner conflicts that result when the desire to Americanize clashes with the inherent need to defend one’s manhood in an aggressive, archaic patriarchal farming culture. He provides a real glimpse into a society where children are traded like commerce, physical altercations routinely solve problems, drugs are rampant, sex is often crude, and people depend on the family witch doctor for advice. Charming, painful, and enlightening, it examines the traumas and pleasures of growing up in South Texas, and the often terrible consequences when two very different cultures collide on the banks of a dying river"–,"A lyrical and authentic book that recounts the story of a border-town family in Brownsville, Texas in the 1980’s, as each member of the family desperately tries to assimilate and escape life on the border to become "real" Americans, even at the expense of their shared family history. This is really un-mined territory in the memoir genre that gives in-depth insight into a previously unexplored corner of America"–


  • Quintero, Isabel
    Photographic : the life of Graciela Iturbide
    Summary:A blending of photographs and illustrations trace the life and work of Mexican photographer Graciela Iturbide, who embarked on a journey across Mexico and the world.


  • Rodriguez, Richard.
    Hunger of memory : the education of Richard Rodriguez : an autobiography.
    Summary:"Hunger of Memory is the story of Richard Rodriguez, who, the son of Mexican-American immigrant parents, began his schooling in Sacramento, California, knowing just fifty words of English, and concluded his university studies in the lonely grandeur of the British Museum. Here is the poignant journey of a scholarship boy whose awkward progress reveals the central mysteries of education, its costs – painful alienation from his working-class past – and its great gains, Rodriguez’s achievement of a middle-class voice."–Jacket


  • Rodriguez, Richard.
    Brown : the last discovery of America
    Summary:The author examines the meaning of Hispanics in the life of America.


  • Santiago, Esmeralda.
    Almost a woman
    Summary:Moving beyond the poignant childhood story she told in "When I Was Puerto Rican", Esmeralda Santiago- author of "American Dream" and one of the country’s leading Latina voices- recalls her extraordinary journey into womanhood.


  • Santiago, Esmeralda.
    When I was Puerto Rican : [a memoir]
    Summary:[The author’s] story begins in rural Puerto Rico, where her warring parents and seven siblings led a life of uproar, but one full of love and tenderness as well. Growing up, Esmeralda learned the proper way to eat a guava, the sound of the tree frogs in the mango groves at night, the taste of the delectable sausage called morcilla, and the formula for ushering a dead baby’s soul to heaven. But just when Esmeralda seemed to have learned everything, she was taken to New York City, where the rules – and the language – were bewilderingly different. How Esmeralda overcame adversity, won acceptance to New York City’s High School of Performing Arts, and then went on to Harvard, where she graduated with highest honors, is a record of a tremendous journey by a truly remarkable woman.-BooksInPrint.


  • Sotomayor, Sonia
    My beloved world
    Summary:An instant American icon, the third woman, and the first Hispanic on the U.S. Supreme Court, the author tells the story of her life before becoming a judge, in this personal memoir. Here the author recounts her life from a Bronx housing project to the federal bench, a progress that is testament to her extraordinary determination and the power of believing in oneself. She writes of her precarious childhood, with an alcoholic father (who would die when she was nine), and a devoted but overburdened mother, and of the refuge she took with her passionately spirited paternal grandmother. But it was when she was diagnosed with juvenile daibetes that the precocious Sonia recognized she must ultimately depend on herself. She would learn to give herself the insulin shots she needed to survive and soon imagined a path to a different life. With only television characters for her professional role models, and little understanding of what was involved, she determined to become a lawyer. She describes her resolve, and how she made this dream become reality: valedictorian of her high school class, summa cum laude at Princeton, Yale Law, prosecutor in the Manhattan D.A.’s office, private practice, federal district judge before the age of forty. She writes about her deeply valued mentors, about her failed marriage, about her cherished family of friends. Through her still-astonished eyes, America’s infinite possibilities are envisioned anew in this story of self-discovery and self-invention.


  • Torregrosa, Luisita López.
    The noise of infinite longing : a memoir of a family–and an island
    Summary:"The Noise of Infinite Longing is about a Puerto Rican family, its origins, its place in society, its illusions, and, finally, what happened when the family dispersed, its members moving in different directions. It is a story unlike any others about the passage of Puerto Ricans and other Latin Americans to countries not their own.,But it is, in every sense, a universal story – of personal and cultural roots that are too strong to be completely severed, and of the passionate and anguished search for what we call home.".,"The books opens with the death of Luisita’s mother, which brings together in one place, for the first time in almost ten years, all six of her children. Over four days of funeral arrangements, burial, and mourning, the family’s and children’s stories unfold, beginning with their parents’ doomed romance set against the backdrop of upper-middle-class San Juan society and the traditions and class differences that ruled such a community.,Out of a childhood of privilege and pain, one of Luisita’s sisters joins the Sandinista government in Nicaragua; their brother hungers for the life of a rock-and-roll performer but ends up a teacher in the Bronx; Luisita becomes a writer and editor and travels the far regions of the world, always looking for a place to call her own. The siblings experience a journey of exile from the family’s native land, and they must deal with the wrenching pull it has on them.".,"With the perspective that the years afford us, the story draws an arc that begins with the conquest of Puerto Rico and fades into the present. The island itself is a character here, misunderstood and often neglected but intensely vivid, larger by far than its size and importance in the global arena. Characters in the family’s past illuminate the island’s history and shed light on its present.,But ultimately, this is a story of human struggle played out against the everyday joys and disappointments of life, and the myths and dreams that sustain us."–BOOK JACKET.


  • Vargas Llosa, Mario
    A fish in the water : a memoir
    Summary:A memoir by the celebrated Latin American writer, spanning his birth in Peru, career as a writer, and efforts at organizing political and social reform in his native country, which ultimately led him to seek the presidency in 1990.


  • Vargas Llosa, Mario
    Sabers and utopias : visions of Latin America
    Summary:"Throughout his career, the Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa has grappled with the concept of Latin America on a global stage. Examining liberal claims and searching for cohesion, he continuously weighs the reality of the continent against the image it projects, and considers the political dangers and possibilities that face this diverse set of countries. Now this illuminating and versatile collection assembles these never-before-translated criticisms and meditations. Reflecting the intellectual development of the writer himself, these essays distill the great events of Latin America’s recent history, analyze political groups like FARC and Sendero Luminoso, and evaluate the legacies of infamous leaders such as Papa Doc Duvalier and Fidel Castro. Arranged by theme, they trace Vargas Llosa’s unwavering demand for freedom, his embrace of and disenchantment with revolutions, and his critique of nationalism, populism, indigenism, and corruption. From the discovery of liberal ideas to a defense of democracy, buoyed by a passionate invocation of Latin American literature and art, Sabers and Utopias is a monumental collection from one of our most important writers. Uncompromising and adamantly optimistic, these social and political essays are a paean to thoughtful engagement and a brave indictment of the discrimination and fear that can divide a society.."–Jacket flap.


  • Vega, Marta Moreno.
    When the spirits dance mambo : growing up nuyorican in el barrio
    Summary:Marta Moreno was born and raised in Spanish Harlem in the 1950’s and 60’s. Marta was doted on by her family members, but none more so than her brother Chachito, who taught her the latest dance steps and called her from the pay phone at the legendary Palladium so she could listen to the seductive rythms of Tito Puente and his orchestra. El barrio was full of the sounds of mambo and merengue, and instead of Elvis and the Beatles, Marta grew up worshipping artists like Celia Cruz and Mario Bauza. Spanish Harlem was a vibrant and dynamic place but it was also a world in flux, where the rigid traditions of immigrant parents clashed with their children’s American ideals. When the Spirits Dance Mambo is a chronicle of the immigrant experience seen through the eyes of a young woman whose life and writing is one with the poetry, music, and tradition of her family and her home.


  • Villaseñor, Victor.
    Burro genius : a memoir
    Summary:From the Publisher: Standing at the podium, Victor Villasenor looked at the group of educators amassed before him, and his mind flooded with childhood memories of humiliation and abuse at the hands of his teachers. He became enraged. With a pounding heart, he began to speak of these incidents. When he was through, to his great disbelief he received a standing ovation. Many in the audience could not contain their own tears. So begins the passionate, touching memoir of Victor Villasenor. Highly gifted and imaginative as a child, Villasenor coped with an untreated learning disability (he was finally diagnosed, at the age of forty-four, with extreme dyslexia) and the frustration of growing up Latino in an English-only American school in the 1940s. Despite teachers who beat him because he could not speak English, Villasenor clung to his dream of one day becoming a writer. He is now considered one of the premier writers of our time.


  • Voloj, Julian
    Ghetto brother : warrior to peacemaker
    Summary:"An engrossing and counter view of one of the most dangerous elements of American urban history, this graphic novel tells the true story of Benjy Melendez, son of Puerto-Rican immigrants, who founded, at the end of the 1960s, the notorious Ghetto Brothers gang. From the seemingly bombed-out ravages of his neighborhood, wracked by drugs, poverty, and violence, he managed to extract an incredibly positive energy from this riot ridden era: his multiracial gang promoted peace rather than violence. After initiating a gang truce, the Ghetto Brothers held weekly concerts on the streets or in abandoned buildings, which fostered the emergence of hip-hop. Melendez also began to reclaim his Jewish roots after learning about his family’s dramatic crypto-Jewish background" —