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Latina Reads: 12 Colombian And Colombian-American Authors You Should Have On Your Bookshelf

When it comes to Colombian literature, Gabriel García Márquez is the name that most often comes to mind, but women’s literary contributions are just as worthy of praise.

From writers in the South American country to those from the U.S., Colombian female authors faced several struggles in trying to make it in a world that was hostile to women — and many of them changed the literary game.

Here, 12 of Colombia’s fiercest lady writers.

1. Meira Delmar

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Meira Delmar was born Olga Chams Eljach in Barranquilla, Colombia and took on her pseudonym at the age of 15 to publish her first set of poems. She went on to write seven books of poetry on themes including love, sadness and death through a distinctive female perspective. She is recognized as one of the most gifted poets throughout Latin America and, in 2008, Colombia created the Meira Delmar National Poetry Prize recognizing contributions by Colombian poets.

2. Laura Restrepo

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Laura Restrepo gained fame for her political columns while working for the newspaper Semana, which addressed corruption and violence in her country. She’s both a journalist and novelist, having published 11 novels, including the acclaimed “Delirio,” which received Spain’s prestigious Alfaguara Prize. She takes on an investigative  journalistic approach to her detective fiction addressing violence in society. “I care very much about my people. I love my people very much. I know people are suffering a big deal in my country, so what I like to do is tell them, ‘your life is worthwhile; it’s a beautiful life. Your struggle is heroic, something will come out of this,’” she told Bill Moyers on PBS.

3. Daisy Hernández

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She’s “bicultural, bilingual, bisexual,” and she made a name for herself in the literary world when she published her 2014 memoir, “A Cup of Water Under My Bed.” The 42-year-old Daisy Hernández comes from a Cuban-Colombian family, and in her book she wrote about lessons her family taught her on love, money and race while growing up in a working-class immigrant neighborhood in New Jersey. She was also the editor of Colorlines for six years and co-edited the essay collection “Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism” published in 2002. She is currently an assistant professor in the creative writing program at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

4. Amalia Andrade Arango

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Amalia Andrade Arango’s 2015 debut novel “Uno Siempre Cambia al Amor de su Vida” received so much acclaim that the young novelist is releasing an English translation next year. The book includes her own illustrations and modern-day pop culture references, including a playlist to help with heartbreak. Last year, she released the autobiographical “Cosas Que Piensas Cuando Te Muerdes Las Uñas” as a guide to dealing with anxiety along with her own illustrations. Due to the success of her two books, and her unique writing style and art, the 32-year-old from Cali has been hailed as one of Colombia’s most talented young writers.

5. Soledad Acosta de Samper

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As the daughter of famed Colombian explorer and historian Joaquin Acosta, Soledad had access to a better education and a sophisticated lifestyle since her birth in 1833. Because of this, she was able to write and  publish, something women simply didn’t do at that time. She wrote for several newspapers and lobbied for women to receive the same education as men. In her lifetime, she published 21 novels, 48 ​​stories, four plays, 43 social and literary studies and 21 treatises on history, devoting a large part of her work to studying the roles of women in society and becoming a pioneer feminist. Some of her books include, “Novelas y Cuadros de la Vida Suramericana,” “La Mujer En La Sociedad Moderna” and the biography of her father, “Biografía del general Joaquín Acosta.”

6. Patricia Engel

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Patricia Engel is an award-winning writer recognized both in Colombia and the U.S. for her novels. Her latest, “The Veins of the Ocean,” won the 2017 Dayton LIterary Peace Prize, while “It’s Not Love, it’s Just Paris,” which published in 2014, won the International Latino Book award. Her 2010 debut novel “Vida” features nine stories narrated by the protagonist Sabina as she talks of the significance of various people and places that played a part in her growth, including both Bogotà and New Jersey, where Engel herself was raised. The book won the Premio Biblioteca de Narrativa Colombiana, Colombia’s national prize in literature.

7. Albalucía Ángel

Instagram / LaCebraQueHabla

Albalucía Ángel is considered a pioneer in Latin American postmodernism and continues to be an influential figure in literature since publishing her first novel, “Girasoles en Invierno,in 1970. She has published nine other works, with her most influential being “Estaba La Pájara Pinta Sentada En El Verde Limón,which is set in Colombia during the period of “La Violencia”  and published in 1975. Colombia, as well as women’s rights and history, plays a large role in many of her works.  

8. Myriam Montoya

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Myriam Montoya was born in Antioquia in 1963 and resides in France, yet she continues to write Spanish poetry. She moved to Paris in 1994 and earned a master’s degree in Latin American literature and then began to make her mark in the literary world, publishing six books. Her poetry deals with exodus, death, birth and destruction, among other themes. Her most prominent pieces include her debut, “Fugas Fugues” (1997), and her latest, “The Flight” (2011).

9. Melissa Lozada-Oliva

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Melissa Lozada-Oliva is a poeta and educator whose spoken word poem “My Spanish,” which focuses on the struggles faced by Latinos who  don’t speak Spanish, went viral. She is the author of chapbooks “Plastic Pajaros,” “Rude Girl is Lonely Girl!” and “Peluda,” which was published last year. The Guatemalan-Colombian is an MFA candidate at New York University’s creative writing program for poetry and the 2015 National Poetry Slam champion for her thought provoking poem on sexism and language,  “Like,Totally, Whatever.” Her poetry centers on feminism, body image and Latinidad with passion, raw honesty and her characteristic humor.  

10. Lucía Estrada

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Born in Medellín on July 11, 1980, Estrada was just 17 years old when she published “Fuegos Nocturnos.” As one of Colombia’s most promising young poets, Estrada has already received the Poetry Award for both Medellín and Bogotá and was nominated for the 2009 UNESCO International Poetry prize.

11. María Mercedes Carranza

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María Mercedes Carranza was born in Bogotá in 1945 and grew up in Spain surrounded by poetry as the daughter of poet Eduardo Carranza. As a writer, she arguably receives as much acclaim as her father for her contribution to the world of poetry. For 16 years, Carranza was the director of the Casa de poesía Silva in Bogotá, dedicating herself to teaching Colombians that “words can replace bullets.” She suffered greatly after the kidnapping of her brother by  Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) and died by suicide in 2003 at the age of 58. Her last book, “El Canto de las Moscas,” consists of a lyrical series of short poems about the violence suffered by the country.

12. Piedad Bonnett Vélez

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Born in Antioquia in 1951, Colombian poet, playwright and novelist Piedad Bonnett Vélez’s works not only revolve around life as a middle-class woman in Colombia but also her own life experiences. Her book “Lo Que no Tiene Nombre” shares the story of the struggles of her son’s mental illness. Other themes present in her works include the enchantment and disenchantment with all kinds of love, from romantic to familial. Her latest book, “Los Habitados,” won the Premio Internacional de Poesía Generación del 27 in Spain.

Read: Latina Reads: 11 Salvadoran And Salvadoran-American Authors Whose Works You’ll Want To Pore Over

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Up Next: Meet Katalina, The Colombian Funny Girl-Turned-Pop Singer You Need To Know


Up Next: Meet Katalina, The Colombian Funny Girl-Turned-Pop Singer You Need To Know

Up Next is a FIERCE series highlighting rising Latina and Latin American women artists you might not know about but definitely should.

Katalina is used to the spotlight. For years, the colombiana has cultivated an audience of millions on Instagram with her hilarious short videos about relationships and womanhood. But now, the social media influencer-turned-singer is using her mic to explore these themes.

Debuting her first song, “Sacude,” a carefree pop-urban dance jam, last November, the Miami-living entertainer followed up this month with the heartbreaking ballad “Adios” featuring Cuban-American singer JenCarlos Canela, showing her musical versatility.

“With me, there will definitely be both. This is something I think I have been very clear about,” Katalina, 27, told FIERCE. “I feel that music is more free now and you do not have to limit yourself to only one genre. I like challenges and I dislike routine, so you can always expect a mix.”

We chatted with the rising star about her lifelong love of singing, transitioning from social media influencer to music artist, saying goodbye to loved ones and what to expect from the beauty in the months that follow.

FIERCE: Most people who are familiar with Katalina know you as a social media influencer with hilarious videos, but last year you took the leap into music. Why?

Katalina: I have always liked to sing. I come from a very musical and talented family, but we always practiced it as a hobby. A year ago, I gave myself the opportunity to develop it professionally with my manager, Kito Sunshine, and I am totally grateful and in love with this. Music is what I love the most — it frees me.

FIERCE: Was this shift from social media influencer to singer strategic? Did you know you always wanted to sing and saw social media as an avenue to build your popularity and get you there or was this an unexpected but welcomed outcome?

Katalina: Since I was a little girl, I have known that I liked to sing and play the piano. From 9 to 11 years old, I sang in the choir of a church when I lived in Colombia, and for me it was something magical, so I’ve always known it. As far as social media, I entered by accident, but from the first day, I enjoyed the opportunity to reach so many people and show them my musical side as well. It was not a strategy. I did not upload many videos singing, but people motivated me more and more to try to develop music professionally, so I gave myself the opportunity, and, well, here we are.

FIERCE: But you’re not just a pretty girl with a following who is trying to use her fame to dabble in something she has no business doing. You are talented! Still, several social media influencers have attempted to break into music, some like Cardi B and Jenn Morel finding success, but others not so much, oftentimes not because they lack talent but rather because they’re not taken as seriously. What has this transition been like for you?

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Katalina: It is a bit difficult for people to see social influencers in another facet that they are not used to, but, in my case, I always showed them that musical side, so it was not totally a surprise. The same people asked me and the reception was very special. I hope to reach many people with my music.

FIERCE: As you stated, you have been passionate about singing and playing the piano since you were a child. What sort of music did you grow up listening to and how do you think it’s influenced your Latin pop sound today?

Katalina: I grew up listening to a lot of pop and ballads. My mom always listened to this music, so she did influence me a lot. I remember locking myself in my room and practicing these songs all the time. I still do this.

FIERCE: Colombian music is having a major global moment right now. What do you think you bring to the game that’s different and helps you stand out among the rest?

Katalina: Together with my work team we are creating our own seal. Our sounds are different and the vocal arrangements are unique to what we want to project. We are focused on the urban wave but keeping my romantic side.

FIERCE: I can see that for sure! You recently released “Adios,” a ballad featuring Cuban-American artist Jencarlos Canela about saying goodbye to an ex-love with the hope of returning to each other again in the end. This is very relatable because a lot of times during breakups there’s this hope that time away will bring you two back together. Sometimes it’s because the couple really is good for each other, but other times it’s just a matter of costumbre. How do you, Katalina, decipher between the two?

Katalina: Saying goodbye is always going to be difficult, either out of love or habit. I think that if you are with someone just out of habit and not because you love him, it is better to say goodbye definitely. “Adios,” to me, has another meaning. Beyond the circumstances for which you have had to say goodbye to your ex-partner, it is the goodbye that makes your heart hurt. It’s the memories of the shared moments that make you miss a person and want to have them again, that’s “Adios.”.

FIERCE: In the music video, the song took on new meaning. It wasn’t just about an ex but about losing someone you love to death and never being able to be with them again. Why did you all want to dedicate this song and video to those who lost their partners?

Katalina: These are very common situations in all of our lives. The message also has to do with those who have lost a loved one, not just their partner. In my case, I recently lost my grandmother suddenly, who was a mother to me, and, for this reason, I, and many others, can identify with this video.

FIERCE: I’m so sorry to hear that! And I think you’re right. The video really extends to loss outside of romantic relationships. We are in an era of collaborations, especially for Latin music, and in this song, your and Jencarlos’ voices blend very beautifully. Tell me, who are some of your other dream collaborations?

Katalina: I’ve always believed you find strength in unity, so working in a team, to me, is a very wise decision. I have a long list, but I’d want to start with artists like Natti Natasha, Karol G, Becky G, Ivy Queen, Cardi B — these are strong women and great examples of what it means to be an empowering woman. Also, J Balvin, Daddy Yankee and others. They are artists with careers worthy of admiration.

FIERCE: I know you’ve been working on a lot of music for this year. What can you tell us is in store for Katalina in 2019?

Katalina: There are incredible songs written by international composers. I will also have my debut as a songwriter in a song that I think people will really identify with.

FIERCE: Can we expect more ballads like “Adios” or more dance songs like “Sacude” or a mix of genres?

Katalina: With me, there will definitely be both. This is something I think I have been very clear about. I feel that music is more free now and you do not have to limit yourself to only one genre. I like challenges and I dislike routine, so you can always expect a mix.

FIERCE: You are so young, at the start of your career, what do you hope people can say about Katalina in 10 to 15 years?

Katalina: My dream is to become an icon in music worldwide. I would love for people to say that I inspired them to fulfill their dreams, that I helped empower other women, that my life has been a great example of triumph. In 10 to 15 years, with the help of God, I will leave my mark throughout the planet.

Watch Katalina’s latest single, “Adios,” below:

Read: Up Next: Meet Victoria La Mala, The Mexican Badass Empowering Women With Urban-Banda Jams

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Netflix Is Turning Gabriel García Márquez’s Classic ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ Into A Series


Netflix Is Turning Gabriel García Márquez’s Classic ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ Into A Series

Fans of magical realism rejoice. On Wednesday, Netflix announced it acquired the rights to Gabriel García Márquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and will be turning the literary masterpiece into a Spanish-language series.

This is the first time the 1967 novel, considered “one of the most significant works of the 20th Century,” will be adapted for screen. For years, the author, who died in 2014, refused to sell the film rights, believing the story could not be done justice through a two-hour project, according to Deadline.

Rodrigo Garcia and Gonzalo García Barcha, García Márquez’s sons, who are serving as executive producers on the show, believe a series is an appropriate approach to the book.

“For decades, our father was reluctant to sell the film rights to Cien Años de Soledad. He believed that it could not be made under the time constraints of a feature film, or that producing it in a language other than Spanish would not do it justice,” Rodrigo Garcia told BuzzFeed News, adding that the “current golden age of series,” with “the level of talented writing and directing, the cinematic quality of content,” changed the family’s mind.

“The time could not be better to bring an adaptation to the extraordinary global viewership that Netflix provides,” he continued.

The series will be filmed in Colombia.

“One Hundred Years of Solitude” tells the story of the multi-generational Buendia family, whose patriarch Jose Arcadio Buendia founded Macondo, a fictional town in the South American country.

The book has sold more than 50 million copies and has been translated into 46 languages.

In a statement, Francisco Ramos, Netflix’s vice president of Spanish-language content, said, “We know our members around the world love watching Spanish-language films and series and we feel this will be a perfect match of project and our platform.”

He’s right. Since announcing the adaptation, fans of the magical realism novel have been celebrating the news.

There’s no word yet on when the series will debut and who will star in it.

Read: This Film About Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is At The Center Of The Most Expensive Sundance Documentary Deal Of All Time

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