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Latina Reads: 11 Panamanian And Panamanian-American Escritoras You Need To Add To Your Reading List Ahora Mismo

Panama is often associated with the famous canal, but the southernmost country of Central America also has a rich literary history. Though small, Panama is home to fierce women who use their words to share their patriotism, their pain and passions.

The women featured on this list include those who broke barriers and their descendants who continue to showcase the immense talent to come from an underrepresented nation in the literary world.

1. Amelia Denis de Icaza

She may be Panama’s first published woman poet, but what really resonates with readers of Amelia Denis de Icaza’s poetry is her patriotism. The part-Panamanian, part-French writer was born in Panama City in 1836 but lived several years in Nicaragua and Guatemala. When she returned home, the Panama Canal was under U.S. control, causing her much grief. Her most famous poem, “Al Cerro Ancón,” conveyed her sadness over the loss of Ancón Hill, which was used for administration of the canal. A poet of the romantic era, de Icaza’s works showcased her love for her country, social justice and the melancholy that came with the political changes in her homeland. One of the most celebrated Panamanian writers, a bronze statue of de Icaza now sits atop Ancón Hill.

2. Veronica Chambers

Panamanian-born and Brooklyn-living Veronica Chambers’ 1996 memoir, “Mama’s Girl,” received critical acclaim, and she continues to thread her Afro-Latina heritage into her works. A prolific writer, she edited “The Meaning of Michelle,” a collection of essays about former first lady Michelle Obama, co-authored the award-winning memoir “Yes Chef” with chef Marcus Samuelssonand and has written several YA and children’s books with Afro-Latina leads, including “Marisol and Magdalena,” “Quinceañera Means Sweet 15” and “Celia Criz, Queen of Salsa.” Most recently, she released the young adult novel titled “The Go-Between.” An admired author and editor, Chambers is also a 2017 John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University.

3. Gloria Guardia

(Photo Credit: Amazon)

Born in Venezuela in 1940 but raised in Panama, Gloria Guardia has received international acclaim for her novels and is one of Panama’s most famous writers. Her famous “Maramargo” trilogy depicts Panama’s political turmoil, including guerilla warfare and dictatorship rule. The books in the saga include “El último juego,” which won the Central American Prize for Novels, followed by “Lobos al anochecer” in 2006 and “El Jardín de las cenizas” in 2011.  Adding to her awards collection are the Ricardo Miró Prizes (novel and essay), Panama’s national literary awards, for her novel “Despertar Sin Raices” along with her essay Orígenes del Modernismo. In 2006, she was elected the vice president of PEN International and president of the PEN International Ibero-American Foundation. She resides in Colombia and Panama.

4. Sigrid Nunez

Sigrid Nunez is a New York-born author of seven published novels, with much of her work focusing on language, memory, identity and class. The German-Chinese-Panamanian writer is behind acclaimed reads like “A Feather on the Breath of God,” “The Last of Her Kind,” “Salvation City” and, most recently, “The Friend.” She also authored “Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag.” Nunez, who previously taught at Columbia, Princeton, Boston University and the New School, has won several awards, including a Whiting Writer’s Award, a Berlin Prize Fellowship and two awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

5. María Olimpia de Obaldía

(Image Credit: Obaldia Mango)

Born in Dolega, a province of Chiriqui, Maria Olimpia de Obaldía is known as “La Alondra Chiricana” for her beloved poetry. She generally wrote about love and motherhood, with her most famous poem being “Ñatore May,” which is about the suffering of the indigenous women of the Ngöbe Buglé people. She published her first poetry collection, “Orquídeas,” in 1926 and became the first female member of the Academia Panameña de la Lengua in 1951.

6. Gwen Ifill

Award-winning journalist Gwen Ifill is most known for her work as a television newscaster, but the late Afro-Latina was an author as well. Born in Queens, New York and of Panamanian and Barbadian descent, she wrote “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama,” which analyzed a historic moment in politics for Black Americans, in 2009. The book, published by Random House, was a New York Times best-seller. Ifill died of breast and endometrial cancer on November 14, 2016 at age 61.

7. Annabel Miguelena

(Photo Credit:  Twitter / @amiguelena)

Author, actress and lawyer Annabel Miguelena is one of Panama’s most promising young writers. The 33-year-old has published three books, including “Punto Final” in 2005, “Pedacito de Luna” in 2009 and “Amo tus pies mugrientos” in 2011. She was also the writer, producer, actress and composer of the 2010 play “Ana Mia,” which dealt with the problems of a young anorexic girl. The play won two Escena Awards in Panama, including best original work written for theater.

8. Linda Martín Alcoff

(Photo Credit: Institute for Social Justice)

Linda Martín Alcoff is a Panamanian-born professor, philosopher and author. Specializing in the areas of epistemology, feminism, race theory and existentialism, the New York-based scholar has authored texts like “Visible Identities: Race, Gender, and the Self,” about the historical formation and political implication of race and gender, and “The Future of Whiteness,” which looks at the impending demographic shifts in the U.S. The part-Panamanian, part-Irish Alcoff is a professor of philosophy at Hunter College, City University of New York and the president of the board of directors of Hypatia, Inc., the nonprofit that owns the feminist philosophy journal Hypatia.

9. Rosa María Britton

Cerramos nuestro especial de #MujeresConVisión con la panameña Rosa Maria Britton. Doctora especialista en obstetricia y oncología y además autora de 15 obras literarias en los géneros de cuento, novela y teatro; Britton es considerada la escritora más internacional del país y ha recibido premios y reconocimientos por su labor literaria. A lo largo de su carrera ocupó el puesto de Directora del Instituto Oncológico Nacional, Vicepresidenta de la Asociación Nacional para el avance de la Ciencia (APANAC), Presidenta de FLACSA (Federación Latinoamericana de Asociaciones de Cancerología) y Presidenta de la Fundación pro Biblioteca Nacional de Panamá. ¡Panameñas al poder! #FemaleEmpowerment #MujeresConVisión #RosaMaríaBritton #PuroTalentoPanameño #WomanPower #woman #female #mujeres #literatura #book #medicina #panamá #pty #panameñas

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Rosa Maria Britton is a double threat, working as an OB/GYN and writer who has published 15 works. She’s one of the most notable authors from Panama, winning the prestigious Ricardo Miró Prize six times. Her debut novel, “Ataúd de Uso,” was published in 1981, and it centers on her own family history in honor of her mother. Her latest, “The New Panama Canal: A Journey Between Two Oceans,” is a collaborative effort with photographer Edoardo Montaina about the construction of the canal.

10. Cristina Henríquez

Mailing our sincerest thanks to author Cristina Henriquez for sharing literary wisdom and encouragement with the authors of our 2017 Young Authors Book Project, which unites @amundsen_hs in Andersonville and Emiliano Zapata Academy in Little Village through handwritten correspondence. . We’re releasing these letters in a beautifully-bound book at @printersrowfest and a special release party at @ovationchicago in June, so stay tuned >> #sincerely826chi . . . . . . . . #cristinahenriquez #cristinahenríquez #bookofunknownamericans #thebookofunknownamericans #chicagopublicschools #chicago #volunteer #volunteering #nonprofit #publishing #creativewriting #getinvolved #giveback #makeadifference #fieldtrips #literacy #studentauthor #chicagopublicschools #correspondence #writemoreletters #letterwriting #feedyourmailbox #nationalletterwritingmonth #littlevillagechicago #andersonvillechicago #prlf17 #publishingfest #psbook

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Born in Delaware, Cristina Henríquez grew up spending summers in Panama, where her father is from. There, she picked up a language, culture and warmth that would set the tone for her future writing. Henríquez, 40, published her debut novel, “The World in Half,” in 2009, which is about a young woman living in Chicago who goes to Panama to find her family ties. Her latest novel, “The Book of Unknown Americans,” follows the stories of various Latinos immigrating to the U.S. intertwined with the love and tribulations of Panamanian Mayor Toro and Mexican Maribel. Most recently she published a short story in the New Yorker called “Everything is Far from Here.” The Chicago-based writer, who has published stories in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Glimmer Train, The American Scholar and more, is also a recipient of the Alfredo Cisneros Del Moral Foundation Award, a grant started by Sandra Cisneros in honor of her father.

11. Stella Sierra

(Image Credit: Panama Poesia)

Born in Aguadulce, Panama in 1917, Stella Sierra’s works center on love, whether it be for nature, relationships or life itself. Her 1942 debut, “Sinfonía jubilosa en doce sonetos,” and the one that followed, “Canciones de mar y luna,” cemented her place as one of the most talented poets in Panama. She went on to release six more collections of poetry while teaching at various schools, eventually becoming deputy director of the Education Ministry’s Department of Culture from 1946 to 1951. Her first book won first place in the Ricardo Miró competition, and she frequently judged submissions from 1951 to 1980.

Read: Latina Reads: 13 Mexican And Chicana Escritoras Whose Books You Need To Add To Your Reading List

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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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