• Has the mainstream U.S. Latina arrived in fiction?

    By Herald de Paris Contributor's Bureau on February 22, 2010

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    By Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez
    NEW MEXICO (Herald de Paris) –
    If you are a member of my ELLA Book Club, then you surely know that many Latina authors in the United States are writing fabulous books about modern American women who just happen to be Latina – authors such as Gwendolyn Zepeda, Margo Candela, Kathy Cano Murillo and, of course, yours truly. But did you know that there is a new wave of books about modern U.S. women characters who are also Latina, being written by non-Latinas?

    The past year has seen a surge in books by non-Latina authors featuring quirky, complex, interesting American women who, as it happens, are also Latina. This month’s ELLA Book Club pick, Erica Kennedy’s Feminista, published by St. Martin’s Press, is one such book; written by an African American, the book features a main character, Sydney Zamora, whose father is Afro-Cuban. This shift has much to do, in my opinion, with increasingly visible mainstream US entertainers who just happen to be Latina, such as Jessica Alba and America Ferrara.

    On April 6, Berkley Trade will release, Between Friends, the third novel by Kristy Kiernan. Between Friends features a lead character named Ali Gutierrez, who faces a riveting personal crisis involving friendship, motherhood, disease and complications that might make tear-jerking plotmaster Jodi Picoult jealous.

    Thomas Dunne books, meanwhile, releases Penny Rudolph’s thriller, Eye of the Mountain God, April 13, featuring a crime-solving photographer named Megan Montoya. Rudolph has crafted a strong character, a devoted mother of uncommon intelligence in Montoya, and a plot that draws on the Spanish and Native American history of New Mexico.

    ELLA will be reading this book as our May 2010 pick.

    I believe a true measure of a community’s equality in the greater culture is often best measured not by the art we create about ourselves – after all, we know we’re terrific! – but rather by work written about us by those who do not belong to our group.

    While many Latina characters in mainstream fiction by non-Latina authors painted us as stereotypical in the past, I am pleased to see that the new wave of novels by non-Latinas but featuring Latina protagonists present us a whole, well-rounded, interesting and unique individual human beings who are American everywomen. This is a major step forward, and one we should all support!

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    Please visit The ELLA Book Club. (click)

    Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez is the New York Times bestselling author of six novels, with more  than one million books currently in print, including THE DIRTY GIRLS SOCIAL CLUB and HATERS.



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