Things That Matter

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

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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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This Author Is Writing Children’s Books For Central American Kids Explaining Deportations

Culture

This Author Is Writing Children’s Books For Central American Kids Explaining Deportations

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Randy Jurado Ertll has been writing novels and children’s books for well over a decade, all with the mission to inspire his fellow Central Americans about the possibilities that abound for them in the U.S., and in the fields of public service and politics.

The author of multiple books and novels, including children’s illustrated book, “The Adventures of El Cipitio,” Randy Jurado Ertll has used literature as a means to help others stay woke.

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“It’s important for us to be seen and heard through books that are bilingual. My goal is to make my literature accepted and to be recognized and valued because we haven’t been valued as a whole, a community,” Jurado Ertll says in an exclusive interview with mitú.  

Born in Los Angeles to a Salvadoran mother in the 1970s, Jurado Ertll is a product of what can be accomplished with absolute grit and determination, despite being part of a group that has been on the margins of society—the children of deported immigrants.

When he was just eight months old, his mother was deported back to El Salvador and Jurado Ertll went to live with her until the age of five.

“People think it only happens under Trump, but it’s been happening forever but people forget,” Jurado Ertll says about deportations.

After his mom’s deportation, he tried making the most of living in a foreign land and soaked up as much as he could about the culture.

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“That helped me and gave me an opportunity to learn first—hand the history and culture [of El Salvador]. It shaped my world view,” Jurado Ertll says.

Once he returned home for elementary school, he had to completely relearn the English language and says it was “kind of like a rebirth experience.”

He grew up in South Central Los Angeles during a time when there were few Latinos in his neighborhood. He was a student of the Los Angeles Unified School District until he was accepted into a program to study at a high school in Minnesota.

After high school, he returned to California to study at Occidental College and obtained his master’s degree from Azusa Pacific University. He then went on to be a communications director in Washington, D.C. for a congressional member and also wrote numerous opinion columns for newspapers across the country including the Los Angeles Times and USA Today.

Jurado Ertll published his first book in 2009.

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His titles include “Hope in Times of Darkness” about his experience as a Salvadoran American, and a novel with surreal elements about a three-foot mythical creature titled “The Lives and Times of El Cipitio.”

“The Lives and Times of El Cipitio” is a surreal novel, I wanted to use lots of symbolism,” Jurado Ertll says. “I wanted to create an anti-hero that is evil but becomes good, a gangster that runs for mayor of LA then president, and the novel talks about how he evolves.”

When demand for his books increased, Jurado Ertll knew it was time to start bilingual books to inspire readers.

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He then created “The Adventures of El Cipitio.”

“The Adventures of El Cipitio” is more of a feel-good, illustrated book.

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“Kids need to feel good and proud, and see themselves in words and illustrations they can see themselves in,” he says.

Although Jurado Ertll has written several books to put the stories of more Central Americans like him to diversify bookshelves and tell the stories of all types of Latinos, one story he hasn’t quite written about in depth is his own deportation story.

“[The] story hasn’t been explored or told as much because it’s traumatizing—it distorts your sense of safety and belonging, and you can make it positive or negative,” Jurado Ertll says.

“It made me into a resilient person. There are other kids who have suffered more than I have. I wanted to empower people. If you born here, you can come back [after being deported.] Lots of people do that, but their stories are not told,” he continues.

Jurado Ertll has certainly chosen to take his experiences and make it a positive one.

Credit: randyertll / Instagram

Jurtado Ertll’s books are sold in Costco and Amazon, and he also continues to present his books at book fairs and events across the country.

READ: Elizabeth Acevedo Has Been Awarded The Carnegie Medal — The First Time A Writer Of Color Has Won In The Award’s History

Capitol Hill Just Congratulated YA Writer Elizabeth Acevedo For Her Accomplishments And Contributions To Latinidad

Entertainment

Capitol Hill Just Congratulated YA Writer Elizabeth Acevedo For Her Accomplishments And Contributions To Latinidad

Avecedowrites.com \ http://www.acevedowrites.com/news

As the literary world becomes more inclusive, we are hearing from fresh voices who are sharing experiences that marginalized people have long endured but have never seen represented before. If this year’s Carnegie Medal winner is any indication, these voices are finally being celebrated by the literary world for the power they speak.

The 2019 Carnegie Medal has been awarded to Dominican-American slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo.

This is the first time in the prestigious award’s 83 years that a writer of color has been the honoree.

Twitter / @nationalbook

The UK’s Carnegie Medal is an esteemed award for works of children’s and young adult’s literature. It was founded in 1936 and named after Scottish-American businessman, Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie was responsible for founding over 2,800 libraries in the English-speaking world.

Acevedo was awarded the Carnegie Medal at the June 18, 2019 ceremony for her debut novel, “The Poet X.” The book utilizes Acevedo’s poetry skills as she tells the story of shy 15-year-old Xiomara. In the book, the young Dominicana joins a slam poetry club at her school. As a result, Xiomara gradually opens up to the world and shares her own powerful voice.

Chosen by a panel of a dozen of children’s librarians, Acevedo and her “Poet X” received high praise by judges.

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Judges of this year’s awards called “The Poet X” “a searing, unflinching exploration of culture, family, and faith within a truly innovative verse structure.” They add that the book’s protagonist “comes to life on every page and shows the reader how girls and women can learn to inhabit, and love, their own skin.”

This is a sentiment echoed by the other accolades “The Poet X” has been awarded since its publication. At the 2019 Youth Media Awards, the book won the Michael Printz Award for best young adult literature. Additionally, “The Poet X” won the Pura Belpré award. This prize honors the Latina writer who best portrayed the Latinx experience for children in their work each year.

It’s that concept in particular that encouraged Avecedo to write “The Poet X.”

Twitter / @Wardle_Academy

Before she was a writer, Avecedo was an 8th-grade school teacher in Maryland. It was while teaching that one of her students gave her the desire to write. The student kept rejecting the books Avecedo suggested she read. According to the writer, the girl said she couldn’t read any of them because “none of these books are about us.”

Consequently, this drove Avecedo to write a story that reflects the sights, sounds, and people of her neighborhood. In doing so, she succeeds in creating a book that gives a voice to “all the little sisters yearning to see themselves” — just as she hoped in the book’s dedication. Undoubtedly, it is this sort of literature — the kind that validates depreciated identities — that we need to see so much more of.

Once news of Avecedo’s win reached the Internet, Twitter came alive with congratulations for the Dominicana.

Twitter/ @lilaybean

This Twitter user pointed out that seeing Avecedo win inspires a huge sense of pride for the Dominican Republic and the Latinidad. Since we all win when one of us wins, it almost feels as if a prima or amiga is being honored.

Avecedo was even congratulated on Capital Hill for her history-making win.

Twitter / @RepEspaillat

New York Representative Adriano Espaillat applauded the writer for her win as well as for her role as a teacher. As Rep. Espaillat explained, Avecedo saw a need for diversity in her school’s English curriculum and she created the change herself. The world would be a more beautiful place if more of us also created the change we need.

Some well-wishers simply expressed how much they love Avecedo’s literary voice.

Twitter / @itsjustkate4

This Twitter user joked that Avecedo is such a good writer, that she’d even listen to her read appliance manuals. Between “The Poet X” and her second novel, “The Fire On High,” we’re total fans of Avecedo so we can relate.

This win will forever be a part of history and — as such — so will this Dominicana’s voice. Here’s to Avecedo’s victory, breaking barriers and making the world into what we need it to be.

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