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Chica Lit

Popular Latina Fiction and Americanization in the Twenty-First Century

by Tace Hedrick

In Chica Lit: Popular Latina Fiction and Americanization in the Twenty-First Century, Tace Hedrick illuminates how discourses of Americanization, ethnicity, gender, class, and commodification shape the genre of “chica lit,” popular fiction written by Latina authors with Latina characters. She argues that chica lit is produced and marketed in the same ways as contemporary romance and chick lit fiction, and aimed at an audience of twenty- to thirty-something upwardly mobile Latina readers. Its stories about young women’s ethnic class mobility and gendered romantic success tend to celebrate twenty-first century neoliberal narratives about Americanization, hard work, and individual success. However, Hedrick emphasizes, its focus on Latina characters necessarily inflects this celebratory mode: the elusiveness of meaning in its use of the very term “Latina” empties out the differences among and between Latina/o and Chicano/a groups in the United States. Of necessity, chica lit also struggles with questions about the actual social and economic “place” of Latinas and Chicanas in this same neoliberal landscape; these questions unsettle its reliance on the tried-and-true formulas of chick lit and romance writing. Looking at chica lit’s market-driven representations of difference, poverty, and Americanization, Hedrick shows how this writing functions within the larger arena of struggles over popular representation of Latinas and Chicanas.

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Chicana/o and Latina/o Fiction

The New Memory of Latinidad

Ylce Irizarry

In this new study, Ylce Irizarry moves beyond literature that prioritizes assimilation to examine how contemporary fiction depicts being Cuban, Dominican, Mexican, or Puerto Rican within Chicana/o and Latina/o America. Irizarry establishes four dominant categories of narrative--loss, reclamation, fracture, and new memory--that address immigration, gender and sexuality, cultural nationalisms, and neocolonialism. As she shows, narrative concerns have moved away from the weathered notions of arrival and assimilation. Contemporary Chicana/o and Latina/o literatures instead tell stories that have little, if anything, to do with integration into the Anglo-American world. The result is the creation of new memory. This reformulation of cultural membership unmasks the neocolonial story and charts the conscious engagement of cultural memory. It outlines the ways contemporary Chicana/o and Latina/o communities create belonging and memory of their ethnic origins.

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Chili Queen

Mi historia

Marian L. Martinello

“It happened on the plaza that never slept—my favorite place in the whole of the city,” writes Lupe Pérez, to begin her memoir.

A mix of historical fact, vintage photos and maps, recipes, music, folklore, and south Texan culture, Lupe’s story offers an eyewitness account of life on Military Plaza in San Antonio during the 1880s.

Facing the impending failure of her family’s chili stand, Lupe is certain she can improve profits. But her older sister and hostess, Josefa, resists Lupe’s arguments—until Tom O’Malley, an itinerant vaudeville actor, arrives. By default, Lupe becomes Chili Queen, but each new venture presents new challenges for the struggling chili stand.

Peter Meyer comes to town from the Hill Country to pursue his dream of becoming a shopkeeper. Despite their cultural differences, he and Lupe are drawn to one another by more than romantic feelings. They share a common entrepreneurial dream, and Peter helps Lupe grow in her business savvy.

Just as business improves, word spreads of a new city hall on the plaza and the subsequent eviction of all chili stands. Where will they go? What will they do? The choice is Lupe’s to make. And her response is bold.

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The Chronicles of Panchita Villa and Other Guerrilleras

Essays on Chicana/Latina Literature and Criticism

By Tey Diana Rebolledo

Although there have been substantial contributions to Chicana literature and criticism over the past few decades, Chicanas are still underrepresented and underappreciated in the mainstream literary world and virtually nonexistent in the canon. Writers like Sandra Cisneros, Ana Castillo, and Gloria Anzaldúa have managed to find larger audiences and critical respect, but there are legions of Chicana writers and artists who have been marginalized and ignored despite their talent. Even in Chicano anthologies, the focus has tended to be more on male writers. Chicanas have often found themselves without a real home in the academic world. Tey Diana Rebolledo has been writing about Chicana/Latina identity, literature, discrimination, and feminism for more than two decades. In this collection of essays, she brings together both old and new works to give a state-of-the-moment look at the still largely unanswered questions raised by vigilant women of color throughout the last half of the twentieth century. An intimate introductory essay about Rebolledo's personal experiences as the daughter of a Mexican mother and a Peruvian father serves to lay the groundwork for the rest of the volume. The essays delve into the historical development of Chicana writing and its early narratives, the representation of Chicanas as seen on book covers, Chicana feminism, being a Chicana critic in the academy, Chicana art history, and Chicana creativity. Rebolledo encourages “guerrillera” warfare against academia in order to open up the literary canon to Chicana/Latina writers who deserve validation.

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Cloudburst

An Anthology of Hispanic Canadian Short Stories

Julio Torres-Recinos

Cloudburst is a milestone in Canadian literature. For over a half-century, beginning with the Spanish Civil War and continuing through the coups d’état and military repression in South and Central America in the 1970s and 80s, Spanish-speaking writers have been arriving in Canada as exiles and immigrants and have been creating new works in their native language. Cloudburst is the first anthology of short stories by Hispanic Canadian writers from across Latin America and Spain to appear in English. Edited by Luis Molina Lora and Julio Torres-Recinos and first published in Spanish as Retrato de una nube in 2008, Cloudburst is a prodigious collective work, containing forty-two stories by twenty-two authors from nine different countries—Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, and Spain—and rendered into English by seven translators.

The stories in Cloudburst reflect the enormous variety of Hispanic writing in Canada today. Each of the authors’ native countries has its own artistic and literary tradition, yet all are bound together by the Spanish linguistic and cultural sphere. Moreover, the women and men in the anthology have settled in cities and towns across Canada, some of them entering into contact with the English-speaking literary world, others with the French. A number of them began writing before they left their homelands, while many of the younger contributors started their careers in Canada. Some of them prefer a traditional literary style, others a more surrealist, experimental, or colloquial approach. All of them are passionate about their writing, and all have gone through the common experience of leaving or being uprooted from the land of their birth and settling in Canada, where they face the challenges and difficulties involved in reestablishing their lives in a largely unknown environment. In Cloudburst, through the prism of translation, they share their latest fiction with English-speaking readers.

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Comparative Cultural Studies and Latin America

edited by Sophia McClennen and Earl Fitz

The scholarship in the volume Comparative Cultural Studies and Latin America represents the proposition that, given its vitality and excellence, Latin American literature deserves a more prominent place in comparative literature publications, curricula, and disciplinary discussions.

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Cosmopolitan Desires

Global Modernity and World Literature in Latin America

Mariano Siskind’s groundbreaking debut book redefines the scope of world literature, particularly regarding the place of Latin America in its imaginaries and mappings. In Siskind’s formulation, world literature is a modernizing discursive strategy, a way in which cultures negotiate their aspirations to participate in global networks of cultural exchange, and an original tool to reorganize literary history. Working with novels, poems, essays, travel narratives, and historical documents, Siskind reads the way Latin American literary modernity was produced as a global relation, from the rise of planetary novels in the 1870s and the cosmopolitan imaginaries of modernism at the turn of the twentieth century, to the global spread of magical realism. With its unusual breadth of reference and firm but unobtrusive grounding in philosophy, literary theory, and psychoanalysis, Cosmopolitan Desires will have a major impact in the fields of Latin American studies and comparative literature.

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The Culture and Politics of Contemporary Street Gang Memoirs

Josephine Metcalf

The publication of Sanyika Shakur's Monster: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member in 1993 generated a huge amount of excitement in literary circles--New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani deemed it a "shocking and galvanic book"--and set off a new publishing trend of gang memoirs in the 1990s. The memoirs showcased tales of violent confrontation and territorial belonging but also offered many of the first journalistic and autobiographical accounts of the much-mythologized gang subculture.

In The Culture and Politics of Contemporary Street Gang Memoirs, Josephine Metcalf focuses on three of these memoirs--Shakur's Monster; Luis J. Rodriguez's Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A.; and Stanley "Tookie" Williams's Blue Rage, Black Redemption--as key representatives of the gang autobiography. Metcalf examines the conflict among violence, thrilling sensationalism, and the authorial desire to instruct and warn competing within these works. The narrative arcs of the memoirs themselves rest on the process of conversion from brutal, young gang bangers to nonviolent, enlightened citizens.

Metcalf analyzes the emergence, production, marketing, and reception of gang memoirs. Through interviews with Rodriguez, Shakur, and Barbara Cottman Becnel (Williams's editor), Metcalf reveals both the writing and publishing processes. This book analyzes key narrative conventions, specifically how diction, dialogue, and narrative arcs shape the works. The book also explores how the memoirs are consumed. This interdisciplinary study--fusing literary criticism, sociology, ethnography, reader-response study, and editorial theory--brings scholarly attention to a popular, much-discussed, but understudied modern expression.

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The Daring Flight of My Pen

Cultural Politics and Gaspar Pérez de Villagrά's Historia de la Nueva Mexico, 1610

Genaro M. Padilla

In this engaging study Genaro Padilla enters into Villagrá’s epic poem of the Oñate expedition to reveal that the soldier was no mere chronicler but that his writing offers a subtle critique of the empire whose expansion he seems to be celebrating. A close reading of the rhetorical subtleties in the poem, Padilla argues, reveals that Villagrá surreptitiously parodies the King and Viceroy for their failures of vision and effectively dismantles Oñate as the iconic figure he has become today. Padilla’s study is not simply a close reading of this challenging work; it is also a lucid critique of our modern engagement with foundational documents, cultural celebrations, and our awareness of our relationship with New Mexico’s complicated multicultural legacies.

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The Darling

Lorraine M. López

Latina bibliophile Caridad falls out of love again and again, with much help from Anton Chekhov, Gustave Flaubert, Theodore Dreiser, D. H. Lawrence, Vladimir Nabokov, Thomas Hardy, and other deceased white men of letters. Raised in a household of women, she rejects examples of womanhood offered by her long-suffering mother, her caustic eldest sister Felicia, and her pliant and sentimental middle sister Esperanza. Instead Caridad, a compulsive reader, educates herself about love and what it means to be a sentient and intelligent woman by reading classic literature written by men, and supplements this with life lessons gleaned from her relationships.

Though set in Los Angeles from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, the narrative reinscribes Anton Chekhov’s short story, “The Darling,” first published in 1899. Like Chekhov’s protagonist, Caridad engages in various relationships in her search for love and fulfillment. Rather than absorbing beliefs held by the men in her life, as does Chekhov’s heroine, Caridad instead draws on her lovers’ resources in attempting to improve and educate herself. Apart from Chekhov, various authors of classic literature further guide Caridad’s quest to find herself and to find love, inspiring her longing for love, while also enabling her to disentangle herself from unsatisfying to disastrous relationships by encouraging her to strive for an ideal.

In a moment of clarity, Caridad compares herself to a trapeze artist near the top of a striped tent as she flies from one man to the next, expecting to be caught and held until she is ready to leap again. Flying, she wonders—or is she falling?

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