September 12, 2023

Latinx Heritage Month Reading Recommendations

Rachel Lawyer, Library Instruction Assistant | rachel.lawyer@usu.edu

September 15th through October 15th is National Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month! Celebrate with us by checking out these featured books from our collection by Latinx authors. For more reading suggestions, check out our physical displays in the lobby of the Merrill-Cazier Library as well as the Library and Learning Commons at USU Eastern.

We also invite you to join us at Celebrando Nuestras Raíces, an annual event that is organized by USU’s Latinx Cultural Center that celebrates the Latinx community's contributions and resilience through performances from various Latin American countries. This event will be held September 30th from 6-11pm.

Fiction

Don't Ask Me Where I'm From book jacket

Don't Ask Me Where I'm From by Jennifer De Leon

First-generation American LatinX Liliana Cruz does what it takes to fit in at her new nearly all-white school. But when family secrets spill out and racism at school ramps up, she must decide what she believes in and take a stand. Liliana Cruz is a hitting a wall—or rather, walls. There’s the wall her mom has put up ever since Liliana’s dad left—again. There’s the wall that delineates Liliana’s diverse inner-city Boston neighborhood from Westburg, the wealthy—and white—suburban high school she’s just been accepted into. And there’s the wall Liliana creates within herself, because to survive at Westburg, she can’t just lighten up, she has to whiten up. So what if she changes her name? So what if she changes the way she talks? So what if she’s seeing her neighborhood in a different way? But then light is shed on some hard truths: It isn’t that her father doesn’t want to come home—he can’t…and her whole family is in jeopardy. And when racial tensions at school reach a fever pitch, the walls that divide feel insurmountable. But a wall isn’t always a barrier. It can be a foundation for something better. And Liliana must choose: Use this foundation as a platform to speak her truth, or risk crumbling under its weight.

Print copy available through the Merrill-Cazier Library

How to Date a Flying Mexican: New and Collected Stories book jacket

How to Date a Flying Mexican: New and Collected Stories by Daniel A. Olivas

How to Date a Flying Mexican is a collection of stories derived from Chicano and Mexican culture but ranging through fascinating literary worlds of magical realism, fairy tales, fables, and dystopian futures. Many of Daniel A. Olivas’s characters confront—both directly and obliquely— questions of morality, justice, and self-determination.

The collection is made up of Olivas’s favorite previously published stories, along with two new stories—one dystopian and the other magical— that challenge the Trump administration’s anti-immigration rhetoric and policies. How to Date a Flying Mexican draws together some of Olivas’s most unforgettable and strange tales, allowing readers to experience his very distinct, and very Chicano, fiction.

E-Book Available

Non-Fiction

From Our Land to Our Land: Essays, Journeys, and Imaginings From a Native Xicanx Writer book jacket

From Our Land to Our Land: Essays, Journeys, and Imaginings From a Native Xicanx Writer by Luis J. Rodriguez

Luis J. Rodriguez writes about race, culture, identity, and belonging and what these all mean and should mean (but often fail to) in the volatile climate of our nation. His passion and wisdom inspire us with the message that we must come together if we are to move forward. As he writes in the preface, “Like millions of Americans, I’m demanding a new vision, a qualitatively different direction, for this country. One for the shared well-being of everyone. One with beauty, healing, poetry, imagination, and truth.” The pieces in From Our Land to Our Land capture that same fantastic energy and wisdom and will spark conversation and inspiration.

E-Book Available

Horizontal Vertigo: A City Called Mexico book jacket

Horizontal Vertigo: A City Called Mexico by Juan Villoro

Horizontal Vertigo: The title refers to the fear of ever-impending earthquakes that led Mexicans to build their capital city outward rather than upward. With the perspicacity of a keenly observant flaneur, Juan Villoro wanders through Mexico City seemingly without a plan, describing people, places, and things while brilliantly drawing connections among them. In so doing he reveals, in all its multitudinous glory, the vicissitudes and triumphs of the city ’s cultural, political, and social history: from indigenous antiquity to the Aztec period, from the Spanish conquest to Mexico City today—one of the world’s leading cultural and financial centers.

In this deeply iconoclastic book, Villoro organizes his text around a recurring series of topics: “Living in the City,” “City Characters,” “Shocks,” “Crossings,” and “Ceremonies.” What he achieves, miraculously, is a stunning, intriguingly coherent meditation on Mexico City’s genius loci, its spirit of place.

E-Book Available

Latinx Studies: the Key Concepts book jacket

Latinx Studies: the Key Concepts by Frederick Luis Aldama and Christopher González *USU Faculty Author

Latinx Studies: The Key Concepts is an accessible guide to the central concepts and issues that inform Latinx Studies globally. It summarizes, explains, contextualizes, and assesses key critical concepts, perspectives, developments, and debates in Latinx Studies. At once comprehensive in coverage and detailed and specific in examples analyzed, it provides over 25 key concepts to the field of Latinx Studies as shaped within historical, social, cultural, regional, and global contexts.

Fully cross-referenced and complete with suggestions for further reading, Latinx Studies: The Key Concepts is an essential guide for anyone studying race, ethnicity, gender, class, education, culture, and globalism.

Print copy available through the Merrill-Cazier Library

My Broken Language: A Memoir book jacket

My Broken Language: A Memoir by Quiara Alegría Hudes

The Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright and co-writer of In the Heights tells her lyrical story of coming of age against the backdrop of an ailing Philadelphia barrio, with her sprawling Puerto Rican family as a collective muse. Quiara Alegría Hudes was the sharp-eyed girl on the stairs while her family danced their defiance in a tight North Philly kitchen. She was awed by her mother and aunts and cousins, but haunted by the unspoken, untold stories of the barrio—even as she tried to find her own voice in the sea of language around her, written and spoken, English and Spanish, bodies and books, Western art and sacred altars. Her family became her private pantheon, a gathering circle of powerful orisha-like women with tragic real-world wounds, and she vowed to tell their stories—but first she’d have to get off the stairs and join the dance. She’d have to find her language.

Weaving together Hudes’s love of music with the songs of her family, the lessons of North Philly with those of Yale, this is a multimythic dive into home, memory, and belonging—narrated by an obsessed girl who fought to become an artist so she could capture the world she loved in all its wild and delicate beauty.

E-Book Available

A Nation of Women: An Early Feminist Speaks Out book jacket

A Nation of Women: An Early Feminist Speaks Out by Luisa Capetillo

In 1915, Puerto Rican activist Luisa Capetillo was arrested and acquitted for being the first woman to wear men’s trousers publicly. While this act of gender-nonconforming rebellion elevated her to feminist icon status in modern pop culture, it also overshadowed the significant contributions she made to the women’s movement and anarchist labor movements of the early twentieth century–both in her native Puerto Rico and in the migrant labor belt in the eastern United States. With the volume A Nation of Women, Capetillo’s socialist and feminist activism is given the spotlight it deserves with its inclusion of the first English translation of Capetillo’s landmark Mi opinión sobre las libertades, derechos y deberes de la mujer. Originally published in Spanish in 1911, Mi opinión is considered by many to be the first feminist treatise in Puerto Rico and one of the first in Latin America and the Caribbean.

E-Book Available

We Remember, We Celebrate, We Believe = Recuerdo, Celebración, y Esperanza: Latinos in Utah book jacket

We Remember, We Celebrate, We Believe = Recuerdo, Celebración, y Esperanza: Latinos in Utah by Armando Solorzano

The history of Mexican Americans in Utah is complex, but it is also a history that is neither well represented in mainstream recounting nor well recognized in the mainstream understanding of Utah’s past. Convoluted interactions among Native Americans, Spaniards, French, Mexicans, Anglos, and others shaped the story of Utah. Awareness of the long presence of Hispanics in Utah is essential to understanding the history of the state. This volume is an attempt to piece together that history through photos and oral histories.

As Armando Solórzano and other researchers conducted oral history interviews with Mexicans, Mexican Americans, and other Latinos throughout the state, a number of participants began giving the team photographs, some dating back to 1895, which provided an opportunity to begin reconstructing a history through pictures, as a community project. Within two years, Solórzano and his colleagues were able to create the pictorial history of Mexican-Americans and Latinos in Utah and launched their efforts as a photo-documentary exhibit. This book collects photographs to represent different historical periods and the manifold contributions of Latinos to the state of Utah.

Readers who delve into this book may see these photos as artistic expressions or artifacts of history and photographic technique. Some readers will see images of their relatives and precursors who labored to create a better life in Utah. The images evoke both nostalgia for a time gone by and the possibility of reconstructing history with a fairer premise. The book does not tell the full story of Latinos in Utah but should prove to be a catalyst, inspiring others to continue documenting and reconstructing the neglected threads of Utah’s history, making it truly the history of all of us.

Print copies available through the Merrill-Cazier Library

Poetry

Citizen Illegal: Poems book jacket

Citizen Illegal: Poems by José Olivarez

In this stunning debut, poet José Olivarez explores the stories, contradictions, joys, and sorrows that embody life in the spaces between Mexico and America. He paints vivid portraits of good kids, bad kids, families clinging to hope, life after the steel mills, gentrifying barrios, and everything in between. Drawing on the rich traditions of Latinx and Chicago writers like Sandra Cisneros and Gwendolyn Brooks, Olivarez creates a home out of life in the in-between. Combining wry humor with potent emotional force, Olivarez takes on complex issues of race, ethnicity, gender, class, and immigration using an everyday language that invites the reader in. Olivarez has a unique voice that makes him a poet to watch.

E-Book Available

Tertulia by Vincent Toro book jacket

Tertulia by Vincent Toro

Puerto Rican poet Vincent Toro’s new collection takes the Latin American idea of an artistic social gathering (the “tertulia”) and revises it for the Latinx context in the United States. In verses dense with juxtaposition, the collection examines immigration, economics, colonialism and race via the sublime imagery of music, visual art, and history. Toro draws from his own social justice work in various U.S. cities to create a kaleidoscopic vision of the connections between the personal and the political, the local and the global, in a book that both celebrates and questions the complexities of the human condition.

E-Book Available