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Latina Reads: 13 Guatemalan And Guatemalan-American Women Authors To Make Room For On Your Bookshelves

Known as the “birthplace of chocolate,” Guatemala is home to natural beauty and a rich Mayan history that’s influenced some of the country’s most prominent writers, many of them women

This rich history coupled with political turmoil, like the Central American country’s civil war that spanned 30 years, inspired the work of early women writers and their progeny in Guatemala and the United States today.

1. Isabel de los Ángeles Ruano

Isabel de los Ángeles Ruano is a 73-year-old poet who has released six collections of poetry. Her most famous poem is dedicated to Spanish writer Luis Cernuda, who was exiled during Spain’s civil war and was open about his homosexuality despite the controversy. She published her first book “Cariátides” in 1966 and went on to receive the Miguel Ángel Asturias National Prize in Literature. Later in life, she began to suffer from mental health issues and has been rumored of selling her verses in the streets of Guatemala City wearing a suit and tie.

2. Ana María Rodas

(Photo Credit: Ministry of Culture and Sports of the Republic of Guatemala)

Known as the “Mother of Guatemalan Feminist Poetry,” Ana María Rodas’ poetry centers on the pain and loss of war and also includes erotic content. Rodas, 80, published her first book of poems in 1973, and in 2000 she was awarded the Guatemala National Prize in Literature. The Guatemala City-born writer, who has also had a career as a journalist, is considered one of the most prolific Guatemalan writers and became the Minister of Culture in 2015.

3. Aída Toledo

(Photo Credit: YouTube)

One of Central America’s most significant writers, Aída Toledo’s work exhibits sensuality and feminism with philosophical undertones. Born in 1952 in Guatemala City, she studied literature at San Carlos University and Latin American literature and culture at Pittsburgh University. At 66, she has published six poetry books and a short story collection titled “Pezóculos,” which follows the stories of different women and the societal pressures they endure. An author and educator, she has taught at the University of Alabama, the University of Toulouse II – Le Mirail, the University of Arizona and Rafael Landívar University in Guatemala.

4. Carol Zardetto

(Photo Credit: Prensa)

Carol Zardetto is a versatile writer who has written scripts and novels mainly about life in Guatemala and her own experiences. Her first novel, Con Pasión Absoluta,” includes multi-generational female narratives throughout Guatemala’s political history. In 2014, it won the Monteforte Toledo prize. In 2011, Zardetto created a libretto for the Guatemalan opera Tatuana. The multi-talented writer also works as a lawyer and was vice-minister of Education and Consul General for Guatemala in Vancouver, Canada.

5. Elisa Hall de Asturias

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Elisa Hall de Asturias, born in 1900, is one of Guatemala’s most famous writers and also one of its most controversial following the publication of her 1938 book, “Semilla de Mostaza.” The book is the story of 17th century knight Don Sancho Álvarez de Asturias as he explored Spain and the then-Kingdom of Guatemala and was written with Old Spanish to maintain some authenticity to the period. The book received a lot of acclaim, but anti-feminist sentiments led many to deny it had been written by a woman. In response to the backlash, she released a second volume titled “Mostaza” in 1939, and she later compiled her sources in 1981 to provide further proof to the naysayers. She died the following year.

6. Luz Méndez de la Vega

Born in Retalhuleu, Guatemala, Luz Méndez de la Vega was a famed feminist writer, journalist, poet, academic and actress.  In 1994, she won the Miguel Ángel Asturias National Literature Prize, Guatemala’s most prestigious prize for literature, and a decade later took home the Chilean Pablo Neruda Medal, among several other literary awards.  In “Las voces silenciadas,” she wrote about how the violence, terror, injustice and misery of the war devastated women’s lives and how patriarchy enforced silence and repressed Guatemalan women and their concepts of identity and image. Her 2002 work, “Mujer, desnudez y palabras,” was considered so important that a documentary of the same name was released at the 7th National Congress of Writers in Guatemala in 2006.

7. Magdalena Spínola

(Photo Credit: Prensa Libre)

Born in 1896 and orphaned at a young age, Magdalena Spínola grew up next to one of Guatemala’s most celebrated authors, the Nobel Prize winner Miguel Ángel Asturias, and similarly pursued a career in writing. She was an ardent feminist, outspoken about several political issues, and was a trailblazer in the field of erotic poetry in Central America. She performed her pieces and often published them in the leading women’s magazine of the era, Nosotras. Her first book, “Gabriela Mistral: huésped de honor de su patria,” was a biography released in 1968 on Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral, the first Latin American author to receive a Nobel Prize in Literature, which included a preface by her childhood friend Asturias.

8. Claudia D. Hernández

(Photo Credit: Nacor Rios)

Claudia D. Hernández was born and raised in Guatemala, though she currently works as a photographer, poet, translator and bilingual educator in Los Angeles. She is the founder of the ongoing project Today’s Revolutionary Women of Color, which highlights resilient women. Her first book, “Knitting the Fog,” is set to be released in 2019 by the Feminist Press. In the book, she shares the story of her family’s migration from her homeland to the U.S. through poetry and narrative essays. She was the recipient of the 2018 Louise Meriwether First Book Prize awarded by the Feminist Press. Hernández is the editor of the photography  anthology “Women, Mujeres, Ixoq: Revolutionary Visions,” which published this year.

9. Carmen Matute

Born in Guatemala City, Carmen Matute is the author of eight poetry collections, many of them written through a feminist perspective. She is the author of  “El Cristo del Secuestro” with Elizabeth Andrade and received the 2015 Miguel Ángel Asturias National Literature Prize. Her poetry has been translated into English, French, Swedish and Italian, and her work has appeared in anthologies published in England, Spain, France, Italy, United States, Sweden, Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Guatemala.

10. Rigoberta Menchú Tum

Rigoberta Menchú Tum is a Mayan k’iche’ activist born in 1959 in Chimel, a small Mayan community in the highlands of Guatemala. Rigoberta spoke publicly about the plight of the Mayan people in Guatemala while in exile. In 1983, she published “I, Rigoberta Menchú: An Indian Woman in Guatemala” and catapulted the civil war into global headlines. In 1992,  She received the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her work for social justice and ethno-cultural reconciliation and respect for the rights of indigenous peoples.

11. Melissa Lozada-Oliva

Melissa Lozada-Oliva is a poeta whose work centers on feminism, body image and Latinidad with passion, raw honesty and her characteristic humor. Her spoken word poem “Like Totally Whatever” challenged the policing of women’s language by men, while “My Spanish,” which focuses on the struggles faced by Latinos who  don’t speak fluent 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. She was also featured on our list of Colombian authors.

12. Denise Phé-Funchal

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Denise Phé-Funchal is a writer and sociologist who is currently a professor at Universidad del Valle de Guatemala where she teaches courses in composition and European literature. She is the author of the novel “Las Flores,” the poetry collection “Manual del Mundo Paraíso” and the short story collection “Buenas Costumbres.” She writes about intra-family issues and social violence, and, in “Ana Smiles,” she explores how the lives of three sisters drastically change over the course of 12 hours.

13. Ilka Oliva Corado

Ilka Oliva Corado studied psychology at the University of San Carlos de Guatemala and immigrated to the U.S. in 2003. She is the author of 12 books, including Historia de una indocumentada travesia en el desierto de Sonora-Arizona,” which was inspired by her own experiences. She currently contributes to her daily blog, Crónicas de una inquilina.

Read: Latina Reads: 13 Argentine Women Writers Whose Works You’ll Devour

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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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These 13 Books On Self-Care Will Help You Start the New Year Right

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These 13 Books On Self-Care Will Help You Start the New Year Right

The holidays are all about love, familia, and good food but it can also be a stressful and overwhelming time especially for those who live with mental health conditions. The books featured on this list are meant to help provide you with the resources to not only get through the holidays but also start the new year feeling poderosa. Because self-care is different for everyone, this roundup includes a variety of books that focus on traditional practices and methods as well as more practical and holistic approaches. Some of the women are self-care gurus and/or mental health care advocates and others are writers or medical professionals who’ve dealt with their owns struggles and come out of it empowered.

With 2019 just weeks away, go ahead and take a moment to read through this compilation to find the best book that’ll remind you that you are a fierce, fly, and focused superwoman ready for what’s coming next.

 “You Have the Right to Remain Fat” by Virgie Tovar

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1 day until the official release date!

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Virgie Tovar’s manifesto for curvy women everywhere is a short but powerful read debunking diet culture beliefs that perpetuate the idea that skinny is the ultimate goal. Even with today’s seemingly more body positive message, there is the still the notion that healthy equals skinny and Tovar is not here for it. After twenty years of dieting, she decides to just let herself be and this book is a testament to her newfound freedom and acceptance of her fly self as is, dismantling fatpbobia in the process.

Buy it here.

“The Latina Guide to Health: Consejos and Caring Answers” by Jane L. Delgado

Jane L. Delgado is a Cuban-American health care advocate and president and CEO of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health. With Latinas and their specific health issues and lifestyle in mind, Delgado’s guide breaks down medical myths and answers relevant questions. Sprinkled with “consejos”  like putting yourself first despite our tendencies to want to take care of others, the book also provides tips on how to feed your mind, body, and spirit and how to navigate the medical system.

Buy it here.

“The Color Of My Mind: Mental Health Narratives from People of Color” by Dior Vargas

Queer Latinx mental health activist Dior Vargas is known for being a vocal supporter of mental health awareness among people of color. Her viral People of Color and Mental Illness photo project in 2014 is the basis for this book published earlier this year. “The Color of My Mind” is a diverse counterpart to what Vargas sees is a homogenization of mental health conditions and the communities they affect. The book contains images and stories of 34 various POC discussing their trials, the strength they gained, and the lessons they learned.

Buy it here.

“The Color of Hope: People of Color Mental Health Narratives” edited by Vanessa Hazzard and Iresha Picot

Vanessa Hazzard and Iresha Picot were inspired to put together “The Color of Hope” for POC after learning that less than  20 percent of psychologists identify as a minority yet mental illness is prevalent among these underrepresented communities. The book features more than 20 essays, interviews, and poems by people of color living with depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder and other health conditions as well as those loved ones affected by their conditions. It’s a powerful and emotional journey through their personal experiences with mental illness in a community that more often than not doesn’t confront these issues.

Buy it here.

“Latino Families in Therapy” by Celia Jaes Falicov

The second edition of the acclaimed “Latino Families in Therapy” by Celia Jaes Falicov is an updated guide written mainly for clinical practitioners. The book examines family dynamics, environmental stressors, and migration experiences to better understand what affects Latino families and their mental health. With such a small number of POC working in mental health care this book is an essential read to encourage understanding of culturally specific issues affecting patients.

Buy it here.

“What If This Were Enough?” by Heather Havrilesky

Acclaimed writer Heather Havrilesky released this collection of essays to encourage readers to embrace imperfection in everyday life. Her characteristic humor and inspirational approach made her famous through her “Ask Polly” advice column for The Cut and it’s also present here. She deconstructs the prevailing idea that buying new products and adopting a new lifestyle will lead to a better life and instead encourages readers to live in the imperfect present to find contentment.

Buy it here.

“You Don’t Have To Like Me: Essays on Growing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding Feminism” by Alida Nugent

Part feminist manifesto and part a declaration of self-love, “You Don’t Have to Like Me”  is a testament to the empowering effects of self-love and acceptance. Alida Nugent approaches the dark moments in her life including her struggles with an eating disorder and her initially complicated relationship with feminism with wit and sincerity.  She discusses deep issues like embracing her biracial identity and more relatable topics like being unapologetic about her love for being extra when it comes to her makeup. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll be inspired to love yourself as unapologetically as she does.

Buy it here.

“Bloom: A Gift For The Girl Learning To Love Her Beautiful Soul” by Shani Jay

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We’re all guilty of looking out there for our happiness. We buy the dream house, the right car, and maybe even those new boobs. We rush around like a bunch of crazies, swiping left & right like life depends on it, trying desperately to find our other half. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ But we forgot that we’re already whole. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We think that more money, and more stuff is going to make us happy. I used to think this too. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ But then we get the raise, we get the Chanel handbag, we get the bigger house — and it’s still not enough. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ So we look around and see what else might fill that void we feel within. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ But it doesn’t matter how much more we do or get on the outside — it has little to no effect on the inside. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ It’s the same when it comes to people. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We all want to be loved; it’s a basic human need. So we devote our lives to searching for the special someone who’s going to give us that love we crave. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ But we don’t love ourselves. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ And that’s why we spend the rest of our lives struggling to teach others how to love us. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ And that’s also why we’re never truly happy, or at peace — because we’re still dependent on someone else to make us feel that way. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ How many times have you thought to yourself: ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ When I find that perfect person, my life will be complete. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I just need to get that promotion at work, and everything will be better. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ When we’ve saved enough as a couple and can afford to get a mortgage on our dream house, we’ll be happier. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Be honest with yourself. Maybe you’ve already had a thought like this today. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ These things you’re placing your happiness on are nothing more than distractions. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ No one and nothing out there can truly make you happy. That’s on you. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ You know where real inner happiness and peace comes from? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ In your heart. In the act of embracing your authentic self. In peeling back those labels the world has nailed to you, and discovering your true soul. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ And in the realisation that everything you long to be — you already are ???????????? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ – snippet from my @medium article ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ????: @christineadel

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“Bloom: A Gift For The Girl Learning To Love Her Beautiful Soul” by Shani Jay reaffirms why self-love is the best and most important love. She addresses the women who need to be reminded to actually love themselves and who struggle with believing life will get better. This is for those moments when doubt is louder than any other emotion and you need that voice in your head telling you that you ARE strong enough.

Buy it here.

“A Cup of Water Under My Bed” by Daisy Hernández

“A Cup of Water Under My Bed” is a coming of age memoir by former ColorLines magazine executive editor Daisy Hernandez as she comes into her own as a queer Latinx. She was the first-generation American child of a Colombian mother and Cuban father who encouraged her to adapt the English language and look for a “gringo” boyfriend. Hernandez writes about her struggles at the intersection of her dual identity as American and Latina and her sexual awakening as a queer woman. This heartfelt journey to self-discovery is about exploring the possibilities that exist beyond the realm of familial expectations and finding the strength to stand up and say “this is me”. Learn more about Hernández by reading our list of Colombian writers you should know about.

Buy it here.

“Words from a Wanderer” by Alexandra Elle

Alexandra Elle’s passages are short but powerful making the collection “Words from a Wanderer” feel like you’re carrying around your best friend who is always there to uplift you. It features 62 affirmations (#anote2self) promoting self-love and self-worth and the value of putting in the work to get the desired outcome. This is the redesigned second edition of the collection originally published in 2013. Elle, a writer and wellness consultant, has published several journals with her latest, “Today I Affirm”,  coming out early next year.

Buy it here.

“Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life” by Gisele Bündchen

Supermodel Gisele Bündchen is known as the pretty face with the Amazonian body in glossy photos and runways but in “Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life” she writes about the pain and anxiety she endured at the height of her fame. She’s candid about her suicidal thoughts in the wake of constant panic attacks that were only made worse by her unhealthy lifestyle that included smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Instead of popping Xanax, she decides to completely change her lifestyle by practicing yoga and medication daily and adapting healthier eating habits. Her ability to overcome her struggles and find love and peace is a reminder that while no one is immune to suffering everyone heals is similar ways.

Buy it here.

“Three-headed Serpent” by Ariana Brown

This mini-chapbook by Afro-Mexican American poet Ariana Brown is a research project on curanderismo in her family. The stories are told through poems and interviews with her mother and grandmother focusing on spirituality, gender, race, and migration through the lens of three different generations. Ariana, who is dubbed a part-time curandera, is known for delivering powerful spoken word poetry and this chapbook is equally passionate and thought-provoking. Learn more about Ariana by reading our roundup of some of the most important Mexican and Chicana writers.

Buy it here.

“First, We Make the Beast Beautiful: A New Journey Through Anxiety” by Sarah Wilson

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Back when I wrote #firstwemakethebeastbeautiful my friend Rick rang me and asked, “Darl, why exactly are you writing this book?” "Because I can’t help it and because I’m sick of being lonely,” I replied. Then I said, “We must suffer alone. But we can at least hold out our arms to our similarly tortured, fractured, and above all else anxious neighbours, as if to say, in the kindest way possible, ‘I know’.” “Good,” Rick said and hung up. * * * This is from the first chapter of The Beast. Ahead of #worldmentalhealthday tomorrow I hold out my arms to all my neighbours from a place where I’m doing the work and going down into the pain (which are, indeed, the titles of other chapters in The Beast.) Be bold and behold your Beautiful Beast, anxious ones ???? And now, I return to the trenches… ???????? #mybeautifulbeast #mentalhealthawareness #anxiety #newyorktimesbestseller

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The title of Sarah Wilson’s bestselling book is inspired by a Chinese proverb that states “before you can conquer a beast, you must first make it beautiful” and in this case the beast is anxiety. Wilson’s memoir “First, We Make the Beast Beautiful” takes the theme of acceptance and applies it to finding a way to manage versus attempting to erase anxiety. Throughout the book she offers tips and practices to help reduce anxiety like making your bed in the morning to achieve a sense of control and accomplishment. “I bump along, in fits and starts, on a perpetual path to finding better ways for me and my mate, Anxiety, to get around,” she writes. Her practical approach will feel like a soothing balm to  those who battle the same beast.

Buy it here.  

Read: 13 Latinx Books Published This Year That Everyone Should Read

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