From the Back Cover
THE PRENTICE HALL ANTHOLOGY OF LATINO LITERATURE is a collection of poetry and prose (short story and drama) by Latino authors of Mexican-American, Cuban-American, and Puerto Rican-American descent. The text focuses on Latino authors who were either born or raised in the United States and who write primarily in English. In this walk the text concentrates on works and authors who hove been forged fly a dual consciousness.
The text establishes its definition of the Latino/Latina author by using the following criteria: first, writers who can trace their ancestry to Spanish-speaking nations of the Americas; second, works produced by authors who have lived in the United States for a significant period of time; third, writers who come from one of the three groups that form the majority in population and literary production of Latino literature; and last, writers with a sense of duality regarding the English language. The text features readings with characteristics unique to Latino/Latina authors such as attention to family, a concern for home, a focus on cultural components such as music, food, and religion, and identity formation.The text includes the following features:
- 32 readings/short stories, 38 poems and 9 plays by renowned writers such as Sandra Cisneros, Luis Valdez, Cristina Garcia, Oscar Hijuelos, Judith Ortiz Cofer, and Esmeralda Santiago that emphasize diversity as well as recurring themes.
- Various exercises designed to explore style and comprehension as well as to compare and contrast the selections from different ethnic groups.
- Brief survey of the three types of literature focused on in the text to provide further background of the culture.
- Categorisation by both ethnic group and genre which allows teachers to focus on any or all components.
- Glossary of Spanish terms for some of the more challenging plays.
Overall, the text emphasizes the similarities and differences between the culture and literature of the three primary groups while also trying to emphasize the unique qualities and universal themes present in all of them.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
When I started teaching Latino literature several years ago I had several goals I wanted to meet. The first one was simply to expose students to works by Mexican-American, Cuban-American, and Puerto Rican authors. I was always surprised to hear that most of my predominantly Mexican-American students had never been exposed to works by authors who shared some of their own backgrounds and experiences. More importantly, I wanted them to see that these works were valuable not simply because they were written by Latinos and Latinas, but because they were well crafted; in effect, because they were "good literature." Additionally, I wanted to show students that while there were some obvious differences within the works of various Latino groups, there were also some significant similarities. I hoped that aside from the linguistic connection, they could feel that they were part of a larger community by learning about the history, religion, and culture of other Latino groups.
Finding a textbook that accommodated these goals proved impossible. Anthologies containing selections by one particular Latino group were fairly easy to find. Mexican-American anthologies, for instance, were readily available. It was a bit more difficult to find books that included works by authors of different ethnicities, but a few existed. Unfortunately, they restricted themselves to only one genre. It was possible, for instance, to find an anthology of Latino poetry. At the time I started teaching Latino literature there was only one anthology that contained selections by authors of various Latino groups, which also provided offerings from different genres. While the books were well edited, it was arranged by theme rather than genre or ethnicity. Thus, I felt that it was not well suited to the goals that I wanted to achieve, and which I felt would prove most beneficial to my students. For a few years I struggled with individual works of fiction, poetry, and drama. This approach was not only expensive for students, but it also limited their exposure to a wider variety of texts and ideas. What was needed, I thought, was an affordable textbook that would aid both student and instructor by accentuating the differences and similarities present in the works of Latino and Latina authors.
In editing this anthology I have kept these goals in mind. For those who wish to study the works of only one Latino group this book is arranged so that it is possible to do so. However, the arrangement by ethnic group and genre is designed to allow instructors and students to explore the important differences and common traits present in these works. The questions that follow the selections incorporate this idea. I hope that it not only serves as a valuable classroom tool, but that it emphasizes the tremendous amount of quality literature being produced by Latino and Latina writers. Eduardo del Rio
University of Texas