Every woman should have a voice heard no matter their ethnic or cultural background. Today, in particular, we shall be focusing on Latina voices and their experience of being a woman in the world. Their cultural background along with their gender identity has helped pave the way for many women through their writing. Here are seven books by Latina writers that share their experiences through fiction and nonfiction works.
1. The Soul of Woman by Isabel Allende
Isabel Allende is a Chilean writer, who has won massive awards such as Chile’s National Literature Prize and she was granted an award by President Barack Obama Awarded her 2014. Presidential Medal of Freedom explores womanhood and feminism recollecting on her life from when she was in kindergarten to approaching her late age of 68. In this memoir piece, Allende witnessed her mother provide for her three children once her father walked out on their family. Allende grew up to be fierce and a dominant young girl.
By the late 1960s, Allende was now a young woman contributing to the second wave of feminism. This was the time in which she felt comfortable being who she was. And she feels no content living her life the way she wants to. Feminism and the passions behind it are what keeps her going. Allende wants feminism to continue through future generations, so the torch can continue for the many years to come.
2. Witches by Brenda Lozano
Brenda Lozano is a Mexican writer who enjoys writing novels and short stories. In Witches, she decides to take the approach of women in empowerment through two different women’s experiences. This story is about the world’s repeated failure to control feminine power.
A healer known as Gasper is actually named Paloma. The story opens with her death. Zoe, a young woman who must report Paloma’s murder meets Feliciana, Paloma’s cousin who lives high up in San Felipe mountain village. When the two women cross paths, their lives are never the same. Feliciana tells her background of being a healer in the community and the struggles of being accepted as one because she is a woman.
As Zoe begins to investigate, she understands what it truly means to be a woman in a world where men are raised and shaped in a hostile environment which continues the trend of toxic masculinity. These two voices mirror each other’s lives in different respects. One as a healer who shares her stories and a writer who can heal and offer ways to understand violent qualms to hopeful thinking.
3. Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia
Gabriela Garcia is of Cuban and Mexican descent. She has won many awards and has been nominated for Of Women and Salt. Her most notable win was the Isabel Allende Most Inspirational Fiction Award – International Latino Book Awards Winner. And has been a Washington Post notable book of 2021 and a pick from A Good Morning America. She paints a world that is filled with betrayals all around, wounds that don’t heal properly, and other mishaps that shape these amazing women in this story. Of Women and Salt tells a story of motherhood, misplaced memories, family legacies, and the reality that not all women are willing to share their stories like others.
Jeanette is battling with addiction. She wants to learn more about her family history through her mother Carmen, a Cuban immigrant. Through this, she makes a hasty decision to take in a neighbor’s daughter because their mother was taken by ICE. Carmen at the same time is still trying to navigate through America, but the feeling of displacement only causes more pressure. She still must process even her own relationship with her mother while trying to help Jeanette. Jeanette is still quick to learn more about her history, so travels to Cuba to see her grandma and find out her family’s secrets.
4. The Inhabited Woman by Gioconda Belli
Born in Nicaragua during times of dictatorship, Gioconda Belli blends fact and fiction to explore different cultures and backgrounds in The Inhabited Woman. Considered to be semi-biographical, this story shows what true courage looks like when it faces disheartening leaders.
Lavinia is at first described as being sheltered and self-involved. This all changes when the spirit of a Native American Indian woman warrior enters her aura. Now she has the mind of independence. She now dares to join a revolutionary movement against a violent dictator. Her main power? The power of love can easily transcend into acts of courage.
5. Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
Carmen Maria Machado is a Cuban American writer who makes it her goal to write about woman’s experiences. For Her Body and Other Parties, she was a Finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction and a Nebula Award. In this speculative piece of fiction, Carmen Maria Machado blends all the genres under the sun to give power to women’s voices to convey the horrors they face.
Whether that be a wife’s refusal of sharing her green ribbon with her husband, or a lengthy list of past crude sexual partners during a pandemic, Machado wants you to feel every little moment of being a woman and what her body endures while also thinking of everything in between. She uses symbols and heart-wrenching storytelling to convey we live in a world where women’s bodies aren’t really our bodies.
6. My Mother was a Freedom Fighter by Aja Monet
Aja Monet was the last woman to have won the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. She was only 19 years old, and at the time, she was the youngest winner.
As of a Cuban and Jamaican descent, Monet decides to share her side of growing up in East New York during the 1990s. She goes to Chicago in the South Side and goes all the way to the other side of the world in Palestine. This poem collection talks of racism, grief, genocide, sexism, motherhood and everything in between that makes Monet’s writing so raw and emotional.
7. Loose Woman by Sandra Cisneros
Sandra Cisneros is a Mexican writer who is no stranger to talking about the sexiness of being a woman. She has won numerous awards including The PEN, MacArthur Fellowship, Anisfield-Wolf Book, Lannan Literary, and the American Book Award.
You may know Cisneros from The House on Mango Street or her most recent poetry collection Women Without Shame. But today we will be highlighting Loose Women as it celebrates the female aspects of love and the overt erotic of it all. She is unapologetically real as she weaves through writings of pain, love, sex, and her heritage.
Women writers have different experiences in this ever-changing world, and through these readings you may learn a thing or two about yourself.
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