Literature

7 Books That Showcase the Resilience of the Latinx Community

October 14, 2020  • Jada Olsen & Juan Diego Mazuera Arias

2020 has been a challenging year for everyone but particularly the Latinx community. Despite being hit the hardest during the COVID-19 pandemic, the community continues to demonstrate resilience. The following booklist compiled by Aspen Words and the Latinos and Society Program showcases the bravery of the Latinx community. Amid crisis, hope and unity triumph over all.

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

New York Times bestselling author, Afro-Dominican poet, and speaker at the Institute’s Summit on Inequality and Opportunity Elizabeth Acevedo employs a thought-provoking and culturally rich narrative through her novel With the Fire on High. Young Emoni Santiago is constantly overwhelmed with chores and responsibilities, tasked with both high school and taking care of her aging abuela. Through all the craziness life brings, she finds peace and harmony when she is cooking, always adding a little bit of magic to her delicious dishes. Dreaming on, Emoni looks forward to the day when she can cook in a real kitchen and pursue her love full time. Watch Acevedo perform her spoken word poetry at the Summit.

Self-Made by Nely Galán

Nely Galán is an Emmy award-winning television producer, the owner of Galán Entertainment, and the former president of Telemundo’s entertainment division. She is a fearless and talented entrepreneur and a thought-partner to the work of the Institute’s Latinos and Society Program. Self-Made is a book about the importance of independence, especially the financial type. Galán insists that being self-made starts with financial independence and the ability to live without precarity. The engaging read provides tactics and lessons in becoming rich in every aspect of your life and making your dreams a reality.

Sabrina & Corina: Stories by Kali Farajado-Anstine

Kali Farajado-Anstine debuts this touching story collection on friendship, mothers and daughters, and the deep-rooted truths of Latino homelands. With protagonists who are Latinas of indigenous ancestry, Sabrina & Corina illuminates the personal experiences of being Latina in the American West and what it truly means to discover one’s background. Sabrina & Corina is a moving narrative of unrelenting female power and an exploration of the universal experiences of abandonment, heritage, and the eternal sense of home. Read a Q&A with Farajado-Anstine.

We Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time by José Andrés

Four days after the devastation of Hurricane Maria, Spanish chef José Andrés arrived in Puerto Rico. Andrés experienced the damage the island had taken firsthand: no clean water, no food, no power, no gas, and no way to get out. Broken from these images and the personal stories heard from its citizens, Andrés decided to address the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico the only way he knew how: feeding people, one meal at a time. The founder of the World Central Kitchen and recipient of the Aspen Institute Citizen Leadership Award takes us through the emotional journey of how a network of community kitchen enacted real change during a natural and political disaster. Read Andrés’ thoughts on how to address inequality.

Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli

From the two-time NBCC Finalist and finalist for the 2020 Aspen Words Literary Prize Valeria Luiselli’s new novel introduces an emotionally resonant, fiercely imaginative new family whose road trip across America collides with an immigration crisis at the southwestern border. Inspired by the heartbreaking family separation policy in the United States, this compelling novel takes readers on an indelible journey told with breathtaking imagery, spare lyricism, and profound humanity. A relevant piece, Lost Children Archive gives us an inside look at the lives of immigrants who willingly taken on innumerable risks to get to the land of opportunity. Watch an interview with Luiselli and Aspen Words Literary Prize judge Alexander Chee.

Once I Was You: A Memoir of Love and Hate in a Torn America by Maria Hinojosa

An Emmy award-winning journalist who has graced the Aspen Ideas Festival stage, Maria Hinojosa debuts her first memoir with a passionate outcry on how immigration and the livelihoods of Latinos in the United States impact all of us, every single day. Hinojosa shares her intimate experience growing up Mexican American on the South Side of Chicago. Taking us through the hardships of being Latino in the United States, Hinojosa illuminates how the rhetoric around immigration has not only influenced American attitudes toward outsiders but how it has shaped current policies. Once I Was You will pull your heartstrings and remind you where we came from, how we got here, and where we will go with resilience and truth.

The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea

From Pulitzer Prize finalist and juror of the 2021 Aspen Words Literary Prize Luis Alberto Urrea, comes a moving story about the De La Cruzes family. Set in the beautiful Mexican American border city San Diego, a weekend of celebration turns into a weekend of farewell and family redemption. The House of Broken Angels is a joyful and bittersweet novel that touches on multiculturality, family, loss, and longing. Mixed with humor and authenticity, this original story will make you yearn to recount all the fond memories one shares with their families. Listen to Urrea speak at Aspen Words’ Winter Words speaker series in 2018.

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