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Latina Reads: 12 Puerto Rican Writers Whose Books You Need To Add To Your Reading List

With 270 miles of beaches, Puerto Rico is without a doubt la isla bonita with as much beauty as it has talented writers. Its complicated history as a U.S. territory is an inspiration for many of the women on this list. Some of these escritoras are part of the Nuyorican literary movement while others are pioneers who helped pave the way for contemporary Puertoriqueñas and Boricuas to dominate in both the Island and the States.

Esmeralda Santiago

Esmeralda Santiago is one of the most prominent Puerto Rican authors in the U.S. who is best known for her memoir “When I was Puerto Rican”. She’s also published a second memoir “Almost a Woman” and a novel “America’s Dream” with themes including self-discovery, immigration, working-class immigrant experience, and biculturalism.  Her assimilation into American culture without losing her Puerto Rican identify is a source of inspiration for her readers as well as a running theme in her works.

Julia de Burgos

Considered one of Puerto Rico’s literary luminaries and pioneers of the Nuyorican movement, poet Julia de Burgos established herself with her poems on feminism and social justice. Though she lived a short life – she died at the age of 39- she’s known for her activism championing Puerto Rican nationalism and identity through her writing. She self-published her first collection of poetry, “Poema en veinte surcos” (“Poem in Twenty Furrows”) in 1938, when she was 24 and went on to write two more collections of poetry in addition to  “El mar y tú: otros poemas” published posthumously in 1954.

Ivelisse Rodriguez

Ivelisse Rodriguez’s debut collection of short stories, “Love War Stories,” follows generations of Puerto Rican women pursuing love. Born in Puerto Rico, Rodriguez founded The Contemporary Puerto Rican Literature Project and is currently a writer for the Feminist Press while working on her next novel, “The Last Salsa Singer,” about ‘70s era salsa musicians in Puerto Rico.

Gabby Rivera

Editor, writer and activist Gabby Rivera made history as the first queer Latina writer for Marvel Comics.  She’s contributed to the comic series for Marvel’s first queer Latinx superheroine, America Chavez. Her young adult novel “Juliet Takes a Breath” won the 2017 Silver IPPY Award for Best LGBTQ Fiction and she’s currently an editor at Autostraddle, an online magazine for, about and written by LGBTQIA+ women.

Iris Morales

Iris Morales is best known for her activism specifically through her work with the Young Lords, a social justice Puerto Rican organization in the U.S. She also helped to create an organization and newsletter called la Luchadora that advocates feminist concerns of Puerto Rican women. Morales told the story of the Young Lords history in her 1996 documentary, ¡Palante Siempre Palante! Through the Eyes of Rebel Women: The Young Lords, 1969-1976.  One-third of the Young Lords were women and Morales was the first female member who published a book of the same name in 2016 recounting the rise of Young Lords and women’s roles in the group.

Giannina Braschi

Born in San Juan in 1953 and based in New York, Giannina Braschi is a poet, essayist, and novelist. Braschi is part of the Nuyorican poetry scene starting in the 1980s with her spoken word performances and eventually publishing several poetry collections including “Asalto al tiempo” and “El imperio de los sueños”. According to her website, she “dedicates her life’s work to inspiring personal and political liberation.”

Aurora Levins Morales

Cambridge protest.

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Puerto Rican Jewish writer and poet Aurora Levins Morales is known for her works on identity, feminism and homeopathic activism.  Her acclaimed book, “Remedios: Stories of Earth and Iron from the History of Puertorriqueñas” published in 1998,  centers on medical folklore and curanderismo and curanderas erased from history. Her other books include “Telling to Live: Latina Feminist Testimonios” and her upcoming “Medicine Stories: Essays for Radicals” inspired by her own struggles with chronic illnesses.  “Because I have very little physical energy and a lot to contribute, I look for the one or two most potent molecules of what I’m thinking about, the particles that could help wake up our individual and collective immune systems. Then I potentize them through art, through metaphor, through storytelling, through posing questions and suggesting possibilities,” she said on her website.

Rosario Morales

Author and feminist poet Rosario Morales is best known for her book “Getting Home Alive” co-written with her daughter Aurora Levins Morales in 1986. The collection of essays focuses on identity specifically growing up Jewish in a Catholic society and their love for Puerto Rico in poems like “Happiness is a Coqui”. In her poem “I am What I am” she states: “I am Puerto Rican I am U.S. American… I am Boricua as Boricuas come… I am naturalized Jewish American… I am what I am. Take it or leave me alone.”

Mayra Santos Febres

Mayra Santos Febres/ Facebook

Multi-award winning writer Mayra Santos-Febres, 52,  is one of Puerto Rico’s most celebrated authors. Her acclaimed 2000 debut novel “Sirena Selena Vestida de Pena” is about the world of drag queens in the Caribbean, later translated to English and published as “Sirena Selena.” Her ability to adeptly take on complex subjects is also evident in “Pez de Vidrio,” a collection of short stories exploring relationships involving race, sex, policial and social status in the Caribbean, which won the 1994 Letras de Oro literary prize. Even more, she founded the “Festival de la Palabra” with the goal being the “Internationalization of Puerto Rico and to promote reading and a better understanding of ourselves through literature.” Her more recent works include “La amante de Gardel” and “Nuestra Señora de la Noche” about Puerto Rican women in the context of power and sensuality.

Arlene Dávila

Arlene Dávila is a professor at New York University who has published five books focusing on cultural politics in Puerto Rico and the public images of Latinos among other topics. Her 2008 book “Latino Spin” provides arguments against the negative depictions of Latino immigrants and the concept that they don’t contribute to society. In 2010 it was selected as the best book in Latino Studies by the Latin American Studies Association. In “Barrio Dreams” she writes about the Puerto Rican experience in New York specifically regarding race and social status.  

Marta Moreno Vega

Marta Moreno Vega was born in East Harlem in 1952 and is a prominent Afro-Latina activist and artist. Her 2001 book “The Altar of My Soul” about her journey to becoming a Yoruba priestess in the Santería religion. She also directed and co-produced the documentary When the Spirits Dance Mambo: Growing Up Nuyorican in El Barrio and wrote a memoir of the same name.  Moreover, she’s also the founder of the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute and chief editor of Women Warriors of the Afro-Latina Diaspora.

Aya De Leon

Acclaimed author and poet Aya de Leon is known for her feminist heist book series “Justice Hustler” that features diverse women of color. The series includes “Uptown Thief”, “The Boss” and “The Accidental Mistress” which came out earlier this year. The first book in the series won first place in both the Independent Publisher Awards and the International Latino Book Awards. She is the Director of June Jordan’s Poetry for the People, teaching poetry and spoken word at UC Berkeley.


Read: Latina Reads: Nicaraguan Escritoras Whose Works You Won’t Be Able To Put Down

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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: ‘Pride’ Is The Afro-Latinx YA Novel You Wish You Read As A Teen

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Latina Reads: ‘Pride’ Is The Afro-Latinx YA Novel You Wish You Read As A Teen

It’s no secret that Latinx representation is severely missing in media, especially for Afro-Latinos. Although the numbers are slowly getting better on television, movies and in music, the literary space is still lagging behind. But all of that is slowly changing in particular thanks to critically acclaimed author Ibi Zoboi, whose first novel, American Street, told the tale of young Haitian immigrant Fabiola Toussaint navigating the dangerous streets of Detroit on her own after her mother is detained by U.S. immigration.

Now, Zoboi brings us a timely update on the classic novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin — but this time told through the perspectives of Zuri Benitez (a.k.a. Elizabeth Bennet) and Darius Darcy (a.k.a. Mr. Darcy).

Zoboi’s latest masterpiece is titled Pride.

In Pride, we first meet Zuri, an Afro-Latina teen who has plenty of pride. She has pride in her roots, pride in her family and, most of all, pride in Brooklyn. But when the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri isn’t sure that her pride is enough to change the gentrification that is quickly happening in her beloved neighborhood. Even worse, her older sister Janae starts to fall for charming Ainsley at the same time as Zuri is thrown together with the arrogant Darius, who she can’t stand and wants nothing to do with.

It’s an unexpected joy to be drawn into the world of Pride, where so many changes are happening all at once. As Bushwick changes and families that used to live there for ages are priced out and Zuri begins to fight to keep her home, we readers are drawn into her battle quickly.

She is just the kind of Latina that we rarely read about before: She is smart, quick-witted and not afraid to stand up for what she believes in. She is passionate, cares deeply about her family and is, in a sense, even a little fearless. But she’s also still a teenager, which is part of what makes this novel so irresistible.

Zuri has all the hope and fears that we all had as kids about to turn into adults.

She sees the world changing and she doesn’t know what she can do about it but she wants to do something. It’s that passion and drive which makes her both a captivating character and someone we can relate to.

And perhaps because Zuri is a teenager or because this is a remix of Pride and Prejudice, there is the predictable romantic chaos. Soon enough, Zuri finds herself being pulled in different directions by her growing attraction to Darius, who she still kind of hates, and the oh-so-cute Warren (a.k.a George Wickham), who Darius kind of hates.

One of the most surprising and enchanting things about the novel, however, is the way the characters speak. Zoboi doesn’t try to dumb down or change their language. She doesn’t try to make them sound high-brow or proper, which some reviewers had a problem with, but she does make them sound like exactly who they are: An Afro-Latino family growing up in today’s Brooklyn. Zuri is unapologetically herself and the way she speaks is beautiful, complicated and not even remotely make-belief.

One of the big wins of Pride is that Zuri and the other characters sound like themselves with no pretense and just the right amount of class and a dash of sass.

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Repost from @owlcrate We were so thrilled to include Pride by @ibizoboi in our October box! It’s a modern day Pride and Prejudice remix set in Brooklyn, NY. It deals with many complex issues but is also totally swoon-worthy. And Ibi’s writing is absolutely stunning! ???? The edition we included featured an exclusive cover, exclusive end papers, exclusive color hardback, and it was SIGNED! The publisher truly put a lot of love into the design of this book! ???? Want to get your hands on a copy? We have some extras available for purchase at shop.owlcrate.com while supplies last. ???? Have you read Pride yet? What did you think?? ???? Photos tagged with the original creators! ???? OwlCrate Photo Challenge: Pride & Hot Pink. #ocbookstore ???? #owlcrate #subscriptionbox #bookstagram #pride #ibizoboi #exclusiveedition #bookmail #happyreading #currentlyreading #epicreads

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Without revealing too much about how the novel ends (you’ll have to actually read all of Pride for that), it’s safe to say that Zoboi deserves all of the praise that she has received for her work. But what really matters in a book like this isn’t how she “skillfully balances cultural identity, class and gentrification against the heady magic of first love in her vibrant reimagining of this beloved classic” (from the book’s back cover), though these things are all great too, but rather what it represents and means for future generation of Latinx kids picking up this young adult novel at their library, local bookstore or online.

A book like this can mean so much to those of us who grew up without seeing ourselves in the pages of the books we were taught in school or the books we found at the library. It’s why today, even as adults, we still pick up YA novels with the hopes of seeing our younger selves in their pages. A book like Pride reminds us of that. It reminds us of what it’s like to be a teen and it reinforces the importance of seeing yourself in literature.

The Haitian author, who recently took down an “insulting review” of Pride that made us all wish we had her clap-back game, touched on something special in the story of Zuri the Afro-Latina in Brooklyn. Here’s hoping Zoboi continues to write her black and Latinx representative novels for a long, long time.

Read: 13 Latina Fantasy Books For the Sci-Fi Lover in Your Life

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