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Latina Reads: 7 Classic Literary Works Created By Costa Rica’s Most Beloved Women Writers

Costa Rica is the second smallest country in Latin America with its natural beauty extending 200 miles from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea. Ticas/os native to the “rich coast” are known for having a literacy rate of 96 percent with one of the best educational systems in Latin America. But with this beauty, there’s also a tragic past and an environment that wasn’t always welcoming to women writers.

Here are seven of Costa Rica’s most famous and accomplished Latina writers to follow and read.

Carmen Naranjo

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One of Costa Rica’s most prolific writers, Carmen Naranjo used her writing to raise social awareness and advocate change in her country. Her novels include “Los Perros no ladraron” released in 1966 followed by ”Diario de una Multitud” and “Ondina” though she’s best known for her poetry in collections like “La canción de la Ternura” released in 1964. She was awarded the Premio Nacional de Cultura Magón and became the culture and youth minister of Costa Rica in 1974. She made history when she was the first woman appointed as a member of the Costa Rican Academy of the Spanish Language and she was inducted into La Galería de las Mujeres de Costa Rica in 2005.

Anacristina Rossi

Best known for her ecological novel “La Loca de Gandoca”, Anacristina Rossi has a reputation for writing about the good, bad and ugly of her country. First published in 1992, the book shook the nation when it revealed a collaboration between the government and investors to develop a resort in the Gandoca-Manzanilla Wildlife Refuge, allegedly protected by the Costa Rican constitution. Rossi disguised herself to work for the government in an attempt to save the shelter. She’s also published two essays that have been translated into English, one entitled “Sex, Sexuality, Eroticism” for Literal magazine, and “Cracks in the Concrete of Capitalism” published in Counterpunch. Her latest publications include “La romana indómita: El futuro de Roma está en sus manos”, a historical fiction novel about Roman ruler Augustus and his daughter Julia, and “Limón reggae” about the war in El Salvador and Costa Rica’s involvement.

Yolanda Oreamuno

Renowned writer Yolanda Oreamuno started publishing at a young age and is best known for her groundbreaking novel “La Ruta de su Evasión”. The novel published in 1948 revolves around a tragically dysfunctional family and went on to win first place at the Concurso Centroamericano de Novela, hosted by the Guatemalan Ministerio de Educación Pública. The transcript for her first novel “Por tierra firme” is lost but her numerous article and short stories remain a testament to literary contributions.

Virginia Grütter

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Y cosí lágrimas, y cosí peces y cosí viento… El 20 de abril de 1929 nació en Puntarenas Virginia Grutter. Escritora, actriz, directora teatral, activista y militante de izquierda. Los recuerdos que tengo de Virginia son su vos ronca y el olor a cigarro. Tuve el honor de conocerla y escucharla, con esa vos que asustaba al inicio, pero luego se volvía tan dulce que solo daban ganas de que no parara nunca. Desde niña, esta mujer representó para mí la horrorosa cara de la injusticia en las luchas sociales latinoamericanas. La cruda realidad de las familias de las miles de personas desaparecidas por atroces dictaduras. Esa parte de la que no quería saber más, solo apagar el tele para que así ya no existiera. No podría creer que esa mujer que se sentaba a hablar tan agradable y apaciguadamente cargara con un pasado colmado de dolores y pérdidas. Su madre era agredida por su padre y en cuanto los familiares de su madre le notaron los golpes la obligaron a divorciarse del padre de Virginia, y así, Lía Jiménez Guido se convierte en la primera mujer divorciada de Costa Rica. Luego Lía se casa con el alemán Rolando Grütter Graff, de quien Virginia obtiene su apellido. Vivió en la Alemania nazi y varias ciudades de Europa, pasando por una infinidad de peripecias a raíz de la situación política mundial. Ella, su madre y su padrastro fueron prisioneros civiles y tuvieron calidad de refugiados en distintas ocaciones. La secundaria fue un periodo de rebeldía que daría como resultado sus primeros acercamientos a la escritura. Ingresó a la universidad y estudió arte, literatura y filosofía. Trabajó durante una década en Cuba como directora de teatro y ópera; además, durante la escena teatral emergente en Costa Rica fundó junto con su segundo esposo Jean Moulaert, del Teatro Arlequín, ubicado en San José. También se organizó y movilizó a cientos de intelectuales para exigir la fundación de una editorial estatal, hecho que se concretó en 1959 con la creación de la Editorial Costa Rica. Años más tarde, volvió a Alemania, donde formó parte de la Berliner Ensemble, compañía de teatro fundada por Bertold Brecht. Seguir leyendo en www.licopenocr.com #VirginiaGrütter

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Born Virginia Teresa del Carmen e Inés in 1929 in the province of Puntarenas in Costa Rica, Virginia Grütter took her German sstepfather ’s lastname, and later both cultures provided inspiration for her literary works. Grütter was a part of the Second Republic generation of the 1950s which introduced content influenced by WWII and Costa Rica’s Civil War in 1948. In “The friends and the wind” released in 1978, Grütter writes about her experiences in Nazi Germany and the dehumanizing effects of war.  Her book “Missing” focuses on Pinochet’s dictatorship in Chile during which her husband disappeared. In her last years of life, Virginia worked as a professor of theater in the University of Costa Rica. In 1995, she starred in a documentary that recounted certain events of her life and work entitled “Virginia Grütter: Stronger than the Pain”.

Laura Quijano

Laura Quijano is a pioneer in the science fiction genre in Costa Rica with the release of her debut novel “Una Sombra en el hielo” which won the Young Creation Award of the Costa Rica Publishing House in 1994. The novel takes place in 2195 and revolves around the possibility of reviving a body 100 years after it has been frozen and how this  person experiences a new world. After its release, she took a break to start a family but returned in 2007 contributing to anthologies and online magazines and in 2014 she published “Lady of Time”, which was on Costa Rica’s bestsellers list alongside well-known international books, a feat no other Costa Rican author had achieved.

Carmen Lyra

Best known for her contribution to children’s literature, Carmen Lyra is recognized as the first prominent female Costa Rican writer. She was born Maria Isabel Carvajal Quesada in 1888 in San Jose and in 1918 published her first novel “In a Wheelchair” portraying the boho lifestyle of San Jose through the eyes of a paralyzed boy who grows up to be an artist. Two years later, she published her most well-known work “The Tales of My Tia Panchita”, a collection of folk tales.  She co-founded the first Montessori school in the country, providing education for underprivileged children and  founded the Costa Rican communist party in 1931. In 1948 she was exiled to Mexico for her communist ties and died a year later.

Ana Istarú

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Ana Istarú Actriz y escritora costarricense, a los quince años publica su primer poemario, Palabra nueva y con su segundo Poemas para un día cualquiera, obtiene un premio de la Editorial Costa Rica. Sus obras se han montado en Costa Rica, España, México y Estados Unidos, en versión inglesa. "Mi estilo de escritura no busca la objetividad, es escandalosamente subjetivo con el afán de seducir al lector con juegos de palabras, ritmos, pero, sobre todo, con ideas”. Pd. Andrea está enamorada de ella. #illustratorsofinstagram #illustratorart #illustrationdaily #vectorart #instaartist #artistsoninstagram #design #costaricadesigner #art #designerlife #digitalart #desingart #vectorillustrator #graphicdesign #digitalartist #designer #artist #drawing #creative #costarica????????#anaistarú

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Writer, actress and playwright Ana Istarú is known for erotically charged poetry flaunting the female perspective through her works that has sparked controversy. When she was 15 she published her first poetry book, “New Word” and two years later she published “Poems for Any Day” which won the Publisher prize of Costa Rica. She’s written several theater and poetry works most recently “Poetry Chosen” published in 2011 in Costa Rica.

Read: Latina Reads: Here’s 14 Chilean Writers Who’ve Changed The Literary World For The Better

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

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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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Latina Reads: Puerto Rican Author Lilliam Rivera Discusses Upcoming YA Latinx Feminist Novel

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Latina Reads: Puerto Rican Author Lilliam Rivera Discusses Upcoming YA Latinx Feminist Novel

Lilliam Rivera has written two novels featuring strong Latinx female characters including her latest Dealing in Dreams. The Puerto Rican YA author released The Education of Margot Sanchez in 2017, a romantic coming of age story set in South Bronx that explored family dysfunction and the importance of being true to yourself. Born in Manhattan and raised in the Bronx, Rivera penned the ode to her hometown after relocating to Los Angeles. The book was nominated for the 2017 Best Fiction for Young Adult Fiction by the Young Adult Library Services Association and Rivera has also been awarded fellowships from PEN Center USA, A Room Of Her Own Foundation, and received a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation and the Speculative Literature Foundation.

In Dealing in Dreams, Rivera takes readers on the kind of fantasy adventure she imagines her teenage self would’ve wanted to read. The feminist dystopic novel is clearly influenced by Latinx culture following the adventures of sixteen-year-old Nalah and her all-girl crew Las Mal Criadas and her dreams of escaping Mega City to the exclusive Mega Towers. Read on to learn about the strong Latinx women in the book, why she chose to portray toxic femininity, and how immigration came into play. The book will be out March 5 and she’ll be talking at bookstores throughout the U.S.

The story focuses on an all-girl crew, can you tell me more about Las Mal Criadas and how you developed these characters?

Nalah is the sixteen-year-old leader of Las Mal Criadas, an all-girl crew who patrol the streets of Mega City. They are notoriously fierce but Nalah is wary of the violent life. She believes the way off the streets is securing a home in the exclusive Mega Towers where her leader Déesse lives. She’ll do anything to reach that goal. I wrote a draft of Dealing In Dreams six years ago and Nalah came to me first. I had just given birth to my second daughter and there were people, mostly women, who remarked how my dream of being a published author would have to be placed on hold. Rage can be a great incentive for generating art. I refuse to be pigeonholed. I wrote this draft while taking care of a newborn and I put it away for six years, workshopping a chapter here and there, until a year ago when I returned to the manuscript and still felt its relevance.

Can you describe Mega City and the Mega Towers and their significance in the story?

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I based the concept of the Mega Towers on the housing projects I grew up in the South Bronx. The Twin Park West Housing Projects is a U-shaped structure connected by three buildings. With the Bronx slowly being gentrified I could just imagine how these buildings will soon be so desirable for those in power. In Dealing In Dreams, the towers are the only structure that survived the Big Shake, a man-made disaster caused by drilling. The Mega Towers is where the elite live and it’s where Nalah believes she can secure a home for her crew if she plays by this society’s rules. There are a couple of hints that Mega City is the Bronx but only a person from there would discover those Easter eggs.

The book is being described as a feminist Latinx dystopia and The Outsiders meets Mad Max so suffice it to say it’s a fierce book, how would you describe it to someone who is unfamiliar with the genre? 

I would describe Dealing In Dreams as a young adult book about a girl who grew up in a violent world and must decide if that path is truly her only salvation to a better life.

There is a very clear Latinx influence in the city and characters, why was that important to you?

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I grew up reading so many science fiction and fantasy novels (Ray Bradbury, George Orwell…) and didn’t see any of my people in them. Where were the Puerto Rican girls from the Bronx crushing monsters? The same holds true of current films. I love Star Wars and have watched it hundreds of times but how amazing is it that my kids get to see Oscar Isaac being a part of the Star Wars canon? The future I envision in my novels is very brown and very black, just like my upbringing. I want to write Latinx characters that are flawed and heroic, who fall in love and discover their voice.

This is your second time writing a teenage Latinx protagonist, why is it important to you to tell these stories through the lens of a Latina?

These are the type of stories I craved for when I was young, desperately trying to connect with protagonists in novels. I think there’s more than enough room in bookstores and libraries for different Latina stories.

You take toxic masculinity and flip it to women instead, what was your intent in doing this?

There’s this great image of activist Angela Peoples taken during the Women’s March. Angela holds up a sign that reads “Don’t Forget: White Women Voted for Trump.” I thought of that image when I was rewriting the novel. I also kept thinking of how our own people will gladly throw us under the bus in order to secure a place beside someone in power. Sometimes our own family are quick to lead us to destruction. I wanted to explore those two realities in Dealing In Dreams.

What are some of the main concepts you wanted to tackle when you wrote this book and why?

I was thinking of books I’ve read that inspired me as a young person such as Anthony Burgess A Clockwork Orange and S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders. I was drawn to their violence and also to the idea of formed families. I wanted to explore this idea of blood family versus the family you create but I wanted to come from the point of view of a Latina.

The idea of finding a better home is a concept that’s all too real for many Latinx in the US, was it a conscious decision to have Nalah’s journey mirror the immigrant experience in a sense?

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The quest for home is so rooted in my family’s history. My parents left Puerto Rico to find a better home in New York. Each decision they made, however hard, was made with the intention of providing us with the tools to succeed. Almost everyone who wants to enter the United States come with that hope. There’s an amazing painting by the artist Judithe Hernández titled “La Muerte De Los Inocentes” and it is of a child who clutches a ribbon that states: “We come but to dream.” I feel that painting really captures Nalah’s journey and the journey of so many who come to the U.S. searching for a better life.

There’s a lot of action in this book, what was it like writing those scenes featuring all women?

I had the best time writing those scenes! I think it’s so rare to see young women owning their strength on the page and not being afraid to use it. I love that my characters are unapologetic about it. I also didn’t want to give the reader a chance to rest, to think of putting the book down, so I tried to inject as much action as I could.

What do you want readers to take away from Dealing in Dreams?

I want readers to be transported to a place that looks at times familiar and completely new. I want Nalah, Truck, Nena and the rest of Las Mal Criadas to leave an imprint on the readers long after they read the last page.

Read: YA Writer Tehlor Kay Mejia’s Debut Fantasy Book is a Feminist Story of Forbidden Love and Oppression

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