Things That Matter

These Books By Peruvian Authors Spoke To Me In A Way No Others Could

When I was a kid, my father always told me that two things would expand my mind: traveling and books. I figured I could just read way to other countries and kill two birds with one stone (right?!). I’ve read most of the American classics like “To Kill A Mockingbird,” “The Great Gatsby,” “The Catcher In The Rye,” and “Of Mice And Men.” But it wasn’t until I was about 18 that my father began introducing me to Peruvian classics. He told me these were our authentic stories…

1. “La Ciudad Y Los Perros” (The Time Of The Hero) by Mario Vargas Llosa

Mario Vargas Llosa is one of the most famous Peruvian authors. This story focuses around a group of teens that attend the same military school my dad went to in his teens, so this is especially close to his heart. This is a coming-of-age story for teenage boys who had to face what every teen boy deals with – on top of racism and white privilege in 1950s Peru. In the book we follow how these young boys had to cope with being outcasts and outsiders in their own country.

2. “Un Mundo Para Julius” (A World For Julius) by Alfredo Bryce Echenique

I’ll try not to be a cornball, but this story really does have the power to remind a reader about the true riches in life: family, people, time spent. “Un Mundo Para Julius” is a daring story that exposes high society’s priorities in 1960s Peru. Julius is a little boy growing up in a wealthy family. His dad is too busy working and his mom is too busy socializing so he becomes incredibly close to his nanny. This hits close to home for a lot of us, because while our parents may not have been high society, they were busy working so some of us were raised by our abuelitas.

 3. “El Mundo Es Ancho y Ajeno” (Broad and Alien Is The World) by Ciro Alegria

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Author, Ciro Alegria, was an advocate for indigenous rights and the protection of native land. The story is about the perseverance of the main character and his fight to protect his land from landowners of European descent. The book explores the exploitation of Peruvian Indians, and the racism and discrimination the poor townspeople experienced. We follow the unfortunate road of Indians who tried to repair their lives and cultures with the very little they were left with. While this story was written in 1941, the similarities we can see in America and shocking and a true eye opener.

 4. “Los Ríos Profundos” (Deep Rivers) by José María Arguedas

This story follows an Indian teenage boy who travels to the Andes (Cuzco, to be exact) with his father in hopes of finding a job for his dad. There, the boy enrolls in a Catholic school and lives through suffering, violence, discrimination and pain. The book questions Catholicism in Peru while encouraging the determination and individualism of self-awareness, power, and decision-making. It is a rebellious and unconventional story, a symbolism for growing up and sometimes having to go against society’s standards.

5. “Los Heraldos Negros” (The Black Heralds) by César Vallejo

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If you’re a poet, enjoy poetry or have simply ever been in love and heartbroken, you should probably check this guy out. César Vallejo was considered one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century. His work was known for making pain and suffering poetic. As a poet, he dared to explore the darkness of a human being without ever admitting to further understanding or insight on it. After every stanza and line, he questions existence, pain and evolution, only to end up with no answered questions at the end of each poem. This signified the road a human must take in life, we may search the meaning in things forever, only to be left with more questions. His poems were dark, honest, and one of the most vulnerable pieces in Peru at the time.

READ: This Boricua Is Bringing An Indie Bookstore To Her Neighborhood Of 1.4 Million

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New Children’s Book ‘Escucha Mi Voz’ Tells the Stories of Migrant Children In Their Own Words

Culture

New Children’s Book ‘Escucha Mi Voz’ Tells the Stories of Migrant Children In Their Own Words

Courtesy Workman Publishing

Have you ever wondered what’s going on in the hearts and minds of migrant children? Are they afraid, sad? What circumstances at home forced them and their families to leave everything they’ve known behind and search for a new life in a strange land? Well, you wouldn’t be alone. A new book called “Escucha Mi Voz” is exploring those difficult questions.

Law professor and children’s rights advocate Warren Binford interviewed dozens of migrant children when visited a migrant facility in Clint, Texas in 2019.

While she was there, Binford witnessed the shocking and inhumane conditions migrants—and especially migrant children—are forced to live in. She decided to record their stories for the world to hear.

Binford compiled the harrowing stories in a picture book called “Escucha mi Voz/Hear My Voice”. Binford says she was inspired to create this project because of how difficult it was to relay these children’s stories to adult audiences. The book comes in both English and Spanish-language versions.

“People were so depressed. They would call me and say, ‘I can’t do it. I bawl my eyes out. It’s too much,'” Binford told NPR. “And so then it was like, ‘OK. How do we help people to access this knowledge that the children have given us in the children’s own words?’ “

“Escucha Mi Voz” features illustrations from 17 Latino artists, all interpreting the words of these migrant children in art form. 

“Having these really fabulous artists come together and illustrate the book helps to create a more accessible point of entry into these children’s lives, and who they are, and why they came to the United States,” Binford said.

“Escucha Mi Voz” features stories from migrant children who range in age from 4 to 17. They come from El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Guatemala, and Ecuador. But they all have one thing in common: they’ve experienced the trauma of displacement.

“We were kept in a cage. It is very crowded,” said one child. “There is no room to move without stepping over others. There’s not even enough room for the baby to crawl.”

“One of the guards came in yesterday afternoon and asked us how many stripes were on the flag of the United States,” said another. “We tried to guess, but when we were wrong, he slammed the door.”

Binford hopes that transforming these children’s stories into picture book-form will make their plight more accessible and relatable to American audiences.

“I hope families will actually have enough energy at the end of reading the book that they’re like, ‘What can we do?’ And, you know, ‘We’ll write to political leaders, maybe volunteer to be a sponsor or maybe volunteer to be a foster family.’ “

All proceeds of “Escucha Mi Voz” go directly to Project Amplify, an organization dedicated to “raising awareness for the plight of child migrants”. Buy your copy now through their website or Amazon.

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ipstori Creator, Ruth Resendiz, Wants People To Love Reading Again

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ipstori Creator, Ruth Resendiz, Wants People To Love Reading Again

When the pandemic hit, the Mexican book market saw print sales decline within the first half of February. By April it had plummeted 88.2 percent.

For former professor, Ruth Resendiz, the Mexican publishing crisis feels personal. The brains behind ipstori, Resendiz is on a mission to get people reading again.

“It was about 15 years ago that you started to see that [students] were not reading,” she told mitú.

In 2019 Mexico Daily News reported a noticeable decrease in reading practices following a recent survey. Results concluded that nearly half of respondents didn’t have time to read, while 21.7 percent showed no interest in reading.

Featured by Apple for Women’s History Month, Resendiz wants new readers to understand the power literature can offer. “There are a lot of writers that say literature can give you a sense of immortality,” she said.

ipstori is Resendiz’s love story to reading that started at a young age.

Courtesy of Apple

Resendiz’s fascination with literature began when she was eight after contracting the measles. Bedridden for two weeks the young girl began reading “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott.

“I knew nothing about the United States and suddenly I was immersed in another family, in another era, in another culture, and that changed my life forever,” she said.

Resendiz continued saying: “With literature, you’re allowed to be unfaithful, you’re allowed to be in a lot of people’s arms.”

Resendiz created ipstori later in life with no tech experience.

Courtesy of Apple

Becoming an entrepreneur at 52, Resendiz launched ipstori in October 2019. With no prior tech experience she was passionate about getting stories into the hands of people everywhere. Despite facing challenges as a middle-aged woman in the field, Resendiz got help from her tech savvy children turning her solo passion into a family affair.

Considered “a Spotify for literature,” the app contains fictional short stories in genres ranging from romance to thrillers. Available on the App Store, each story has a reading time of one, three, five, or seven minutes.

One of Resendiz’s main focuses with ipstori is to highlight the emotional depth of a narrative. With a generation living on smartphones, Resendiz hopes this method of engagement sparks a change of attitude.

ipstori gives readers thousands of stories to read at any time.

Courtesy of Apple

As attention spans have declined with the rise of social media, Resendiz anticipates that reading short stories would eventually allow readers to adapt to longer novels.

For me, a success story would be that someone that started with ipstori, [their] next stage is going to a library or to Kindle or buy a whole book,” she stated. “We don’t want to compete with books. We just want to give you this kind of starting ritual.”

During the pandemic, 71 percent of the Mexican population was on the internet. Thanks to the digital market, e-books and audiobooks are helping print bookstores regain sales, but not by much.

Luckily, more than 70,000 users engaged with ipstori reading ‘diversidad’ and ‘erotic’ genres that especially gained traction during the pandemic.

“When you’re surrounded by death in every sense, not just corporal death, but [the] death of a lot of things you need to control it with life,” Resendiz observes. “And what is more lively than [the] erotic?”

With over 200 authors writing for ipstori from all over Latin America, Resendiz is expanding the app’s range to include “tiny audibles” read by professional theater actors.

While the publishing crisis remains, Resendiz wants her app to “be that bridge between the creators and the possible readers.”

Reading, she says, is “the difference between being alive and just surviving.”

“We are made by stories, the stories of our parents, and the stories that we tell ourselves about ourselves,” Resendiz says.

The App Store featured ipstori for Women’s History Month.

READ: Many Native Languages Are Dying Off But Here’s How Indigenous Millennials Are Using Tech To Save Them

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