Things That Matter

These 23 Latin American Writers And Poets Changed The World With Their Work

In spite of the anti-immigrant rhetoric pervading the US these days, there’s no doubt that Latin American literature has seen a recent surge in popularity and relevance worldwide. While this is only a sample of notable Latin American authors ranging from just south of the border all the way to south of the world, take note and you might just include a few in your regular reading rotation.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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Considered by many as the best Spanish writer of all times, this Colombian journalist and author received the Nobel literature prize in 1982 after the enormous success of his epic “100 years of solitude.” Garcia Marquez was universally acclaimed as the father of “magic realism” which he used to depict everyday situations with just the right touch of weird. He passed away in 2014.

Gabriela Mistral

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The nation of Chile is no stranger to wonderful writers and poets, and Lucila Godoy, whose nom de plume was Gabriela Mistral, was not the exception. Back in a time when women writers were a rarity, she became the first female writer from Latin America to be awarded the Nobel literature prize in 1945. Her writings were poetic, and full of powerful, idealistic, emotions.

Pablo Neruda

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His political inclination towards Communism had Neruda at odds with the Chilean government at the time, leaving his friends to hide him in a farmhouse to avoid his detention. When he was awarded the Nobel literature prize in 1971, it didn’t sit well with the anti-Communist agenda. His writing style had plenty of surrealist poems, historical epics, overtly political manifestos and love. Even today there is debate of how he died, most probably killed by the Chilean government that overthrew Allende.

Isabel Allende

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Born in Peru, although originally Chilean, she is American by marriage. She is a relative of the former socialist president Salvador Allende, and her writings are dotted with hints of the magic realism. Considered one of the foremost feminist writers in the world, she often relates her own experiences growing up in Latin America as the sources for her writings. She frequently lectures throughout the US.

Alejo Carpentier

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Cuba has had its fair share of extraordinary writers, and Carpentier was one of the first writers to redirect the Baroque style that other Latino writers assimilated into their own artistic vision. Born in Switzerland, he never left that European viewpoint in his writings, which were laced with affinity toward revolutionary movements like the one in Cuba in the late 50s led by Castro. A lesser-known aspect of his life was his thorough study of music, especially the Cuban bolero.

Alfonsina Storni

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Born in the final years of the 1800s century, she took her own life in 1938. One can only imagine what would have been of this prolific writer’s works. Starting as a journalist, she befriended many other writers in Argentina and Latin America as a whole. Many consider her as the front runner for the feminine movements that started much later in the century. In fact, a large part of her work was centered around feminism and women’s rights.

Octavio Paz

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Diplomat and poet are sometimes seen as opposites, but in the case of Paz they were a fit for a man equally as contrasting. As a Mexican diplomat he was sent to Paris in 1945, where he wrote his masterpiece “The Labyrinth of Solitude.” In 1990 he was awarded the Nobel literature prize.

Norah Lange

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Another notable woman writer from Argentina, Lange was normally associated to the avant-garde movement of South American writers that dominated the literary scene in the ’20s and ’30s. Her writing style was concurrent with the movement of the times, mostly regarded as “art for art’s sake”. The ultra-modernistic style of Lange had a definite influence in many Argentine writers of the postwar period.

Carlos Fuentes

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Loved by many, despised by many, Carlos Fuentes is described as one of the most admired writers in Spanish, and one whose influence is notable in the Latin American literary explosion in the late 60s and 70s. One of his writings, “Old Gringo” was adapted into a screenplay by Hollywood in a movie starring Gregory Peck. His works were always with the reader in mind, thus when he sat down to write he always asked himself, “am I writing this for?” Many feel he deserved the Nobel, but never won the award. Died in 2012.

Julia De Burgos

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One of the earliest proponents of women’s liberation movements worldwide, this Puerto Rican poet was also an ardent advocate of the island’s independence from the USA. In her writings, she stands out for the oppressed people chronicling their social struggles and combining that with the intimate side of feminism. In her final years, she wrote in English, including her “Farewell in Welfare Island” detailing her bouts with depression and alcoholism. She was largely anonymous when she died in 1935; her body claimed a few weeks later.

Mario Vargas Llosa

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A native of Peru, he is one of the leading writers of his generation and also considered a significant novelist and essayist who also had the greatest impact internationally than any other writer of the Latin American boom started in the late 60s. He is one of the few leading writers of his time to gradually shift politically from the left into right-wing liberalism, a move that garnished him some ill-advised opinions from his peers. He was awarded the Nobel literature prize in 2010.

Delmira Agustini

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Such a short life, full of expectations and tragedy. The precocious daughter of Italian immigrants was born in Uruguay in the late 19th century. From childhood she excelled in all of the fine arts, specially music and writing. Her works are laced with overt erotic undertones, uncharacteristic of her time. She dallies into sexual escapades with vivid imagination. Unfortunately, just a month after she married, her husband shot her in the head and then took his own life. One can only imagine what may have become of this extraordinarily gifted writer.

Jorge Luis Borges

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Blindness perhaps would bring most people down in their hopes, but in the case of Borges, it aided him into creating innovative literary symbols that later led into the magic realism so present in Latin American literature. Born at the end of the 19th century in Argentina, he is better known for his short stories with interconnected dreams, sometimes whimsical twists and turns, and plenty of fantasy. Sitting at the political center, he struggled both with communism and capitalism, criticizing both. His career started as a translator, thus he was familiarized with many works.

Albalucia Angel

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Unlike many male writers of her generation, this Colombian didn’t receive the rave reviews of critics, publishing houses and academics. Born during the first quarter of the 20th century, she studied in France and later in Italy where she perfected a literary style that, although set in the Latin American boom phase, was rather independent in her worldview. She delved into poetry, novel, theater, essays and screenwriting. Twice Alice is one of her most famous works.

Julio Cortazar

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Considered one of the most innovative and original writers of his time, he also started his career as a translator assisting in his contact many different works of literature. Cortazar was admirable in crafting short stories, poetic prose and major novels, creating a new wave in Latin American literature. Like many writers in Latin America, he was not for into the political turmoil going on and, protesting against the government of his native Argentina, he was nationalized French in the early 50s and spent the last days of his life in Europe. He died in 1984, always a fierce atheist.

Cecilia Meirells

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This Brazilian writer, journalist and educator, grew up in hardship, which she overcame by becoming a writer at the early age of nine. Even her first marriage brought about hardship as her husband, struggling with depression, took his own life. Her writing style is considered timeless, ethereal. She is credited with having started the Brazilian modernism in literature. Her educational children’s books are still used today. She lectured at the University of Texas during the 40s.

Alberto Girri

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This Argentinian writer is noticed for his intellectual writings laced with stoic references of self-denial of pleasures. Another translator originally, he revised the works of many English-speaking authors such as TS Elliot, Frost and others that definitely left a mark on the writer. He insisted that poetry was a vehicle for philosophical rationale, but always affirmed the need for letting go of oneself and possessions. He died in 1991 in his beloved Buenos Aires.

Jaime Sabines

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This Mexican author of Cuban and Lebanese descent left an indelible mark in the literature of the second half of the 20th century. A simple man, he decided to live and dwell among the common folk, learning and absorbing everything from them. He was lauded by his peers and critics alike, because of his close regard for the people. Politicians noticed his status and offered him different positions, which he took, but never felt comfortable in it. His work is influenced by Neruda. Sabines died in 1999, at the age of 72.

Sor Juana Ines De La Cruz

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The illegitimate child of a Spanish soldier, she was born just outside Mexico City and studied on her own from a library the family had inherited from her grandfather. Book reading was forbidden for girls, so she was obviously enlightened by the opportunity. Those books opened the young girl to many fields: sciences, literature, theology, jurisprudence and philosophy. Taking a vow as nun, she faced opposition from the Bishop of Puebla because of her writing defending women’s right to education, a taboo back then. She died at 43 in 1651, infected of plague while tending to other sick nuns.

Mario Benedetti

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Uruguayan born in 1920, he is considered one of the greatest Latin American writers of the second half of the 1900s. Journalist, poet and novelist, he adorned the pages of many printed media with his short stories and poems. Being of German descent from his mother, he was Kafka’s first translator in Uruguay, although his Dad made his take distance from Mom’s homeland during the rise of Nazism. His works are prolific, he was a tireless writer. Also tireless as a political activist he was ordered removed from his country by the dictatorship in the early 70s. He passed away back home in 2009.

Rosario Castellanos

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Mexican writer, diplomat and ardent feminist, she graduated from the school of philosophy in Mexico City and later became lecturer in the Universities of Wisconsin, Colorado State and Indiana. Her failed marriage led to her interest in defending women from the strongholds of “machismo” at the time. Her poetry was an attempt to always reach the root cause of anything, using the word as her tool. Politically, she was appointed Mexican Ambassador in Israel and died in Tel Aviv in 1974 in a strange home accident, electrocuted by an appliance after showering.

Victor Jara

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Not exactly a writer, but Jara, a Chilean singer-songwriter, became the face of freedom amidst the brutal dictatorship that rattled the land during the mid-part of the 70s. His political inclination to the radical left made him many admirers, but also the worst of foes in the military junta that toppled the government of Allende in 1973. The same day Allende was overthrown and killed, the dictator’s forces captured Jara and led him to a concentration camp. His body was found a week later with over 40 gunshot wounds. It took 17 years for the government to finally admit he was tortured and killed by the ruling forces. His work has inspired many contemporary singers, writers and authors.

Elena Poniatowska

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Born in Paris, but Mexican by her mother, she had to move back to America after war broke in Europe in the late 30s. She didn’t study high school, but was eager to work in a newspaper, first as secretary then covering the burgeoning social scene of the Mexico City of the 50s. All this sparked her interest in achieving better living conditions for Mexican women. But her moment of glory came when covering the events of a bloody stop to a student revolt in 1968, days before the Olympics in Mexico, “The Night of Tlatelolco” became a mandatory reading for those interested in the subject that still today is a matter of controversy, almost 50 years after the fact. She is very active today.

Nickelodeon Wants Kids To See More Multicultural And Diverse Content, So They’re Launching Mexican-Inspired Show “The Casagrandes”


Nickelodeon Wants Kids To See More Multicultural And Diverse Content, So They’re Launching Mexican-Inspired Show “The Casagrandes”

TheCasaGrandes / Instagram

Nickelodeon announced this year that the network wants to focus on giving kids a more “multicultural, authentic and diverse” array of programming that will reflect modern kids’ everyday lives. The kids’ outlet plans to serve just that, in “The Casagrandes,” a companion series to its animated mainstay, “The Loud House,” about a small boy and his many sisters. The new program will follow Lincoln Loud’s friend Ronnie Anne and her brother Bobby Santiago living in the city with a chaotic multi-generational family. 

The kids’ network is actively working on bringing diversity to children through their programming.

According to Cyma Zarghami, president of the company’s Nickelodeon Group and a kids-media veteran; Nickelodeon will be focusing on series that present broader families and more characters from a broader array of backgrounds, said Zarghami, noting that modern kids want to see shows that mirror the people in their lives. “Multicultural, authentic and diverse,” are the themes they seek, she added.

“The Casagrandes” is a spinoff of Nickelodeon’s animated hit mainstay show “The Loud House”. 

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Children who watch Nickelodeon on the regular, will be familiar with Ronnie Anne from the hit series, “The Loud House,” which is similar to “The Casagrandes” in that they both navigate a kid’s life surrounded by a large family. The new show however, will add diversity to the network in terms of race. “The loud house” does so with gender, by focusing on a boy named Lincoln Loud living with his family of 10 sisters —all of whom have different personalities and ambitions which break with female stereotypes.

With “The Casagrandes”, Nickelodeon is taking the next step towards diversity by exploring a female character more deeply. 

On “The Loud House” Ronnie Anne Santiago is a character frequently presented as a tough tomboy figure who dislikes girly things. As the show progresses thought, the audience finds out that she is actually very sensitive and kind. Her brother, Bobby Santiago Jr. is also a recurring character as the boyfriend of Lori Loud, Lincoln’s sister. Roberto “Bobby” Santiago Jr. will be playing a much larger role in “The Casagrandes.”

Nickelodeon teased the new show during an episode of “The Loud House”.

Credit: thecasagrandes / Instagram

The network teased the upcoming spinoff in a recent episode of “The Loud House,” which was entirely about Ronnie Anne and Bobby, rather than Lincoln Loud, the protagonist of the series. In the episode, Ronnie Anne and her brother move to their extended family’s apartment in the city, which rests on top of a bodega. 

At first, Ronnie Anne is reticent about moving since she’s used to living with her small family of three. Soon she adjusts to living with all her relatives under one roof. The episode, which served as an introduction to Ronnie Anne’s extended family, is also an introduction to Latino culture. Throughout the episode, the show makes references that resonate with Latinos everywhere, such as the way that Ronnie Anne’s abuelita ‘Rosa’, persists on her family members and guests eating until they’re completely stuffed. 

The show makes many references to Latino culture and traditions through relatable characters like ‘Rosa’, the family’s abuela.

The overbearing grandmother is a Latino stereotype that largely, seems to be true to most Latinos, and a lot of Latinx children in the audience might be able to relate. The episode plays with that idea by having Rosa go way overboard with her cooking anytime someone mentions they’re hungry. Rosa also frequently makes home remedies when someone in her family gets hurt —another reference to the Latino community and the all too familiar ‘remedios caseros’ we have to endure when grandma finds out we have a tummy-ache or a fever. 

Lincoln and his family live in a suburban, mostly white-predominant town, while Ronnie Anne will be living in an urban area, surrounded by people of multicultural backgrounds. In the episode that teased the upcoming show “Los Casagrandes”, Ronnie Anne makes friends with several kids in the city, many of whom are also people of color. “Los Casagrandes” will reflect the city life by situating characters in different parts of the city. The Casagrande apartment and the family’s bodega, will be found in the Spanish-speaking neighborhoods.

Ronnie Anne, the protagonist, offers an intersectional lens on what it means to be both female and a POC.

By having Ronnie Anne as a protagonist, the show will offer an intersectional lens on what it’s like to explore her life as both a female and a person of color. In similar fashion to “The Loud House”, the characters will have diverse personalities, but instead of seeing the identities and narratives through female characters as seen through Lincoln Loud’s 10 sisters, the new show will present differences through Latino characters, specifically characters of Mexican culture. 

“The Casagrandes,” premieres Monday, Oct. 14, at 1:30 p.m. ET/PT before moving to its regular timeslot on Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. beginning on Oct. 19.

A Newly Restored Version of The 90s ‘Selena’ Classic Film Starring Jennifer Lopez Is Coming To The Big Screen Again


A Newly Restored Version of The 90s ‘Selena’ Classic Film Starring Jennifer Lopez Is Coming To The Big Screen Again

Selena /Warner Bros.

Twenty-two years have passed since Latinas across the globe watched in awe as Jennifer Lopez took on the role of Tejano music icon Selena in the biopic of her life. The 1997 classic lovingly spotlighted the singer’s life and death years ago and, in the years since, has been a sort of cultural Latino touchstone for young girls who didn’t have the chance to grow up watching the singer herself.

Now, young Latinas who didn’t get to see the classic in the theaters during its original release will have a chance to do just that this weekend.

The Brooklyn Academy of Music has announced that it will screen a new digital print of the film in theaters this weekend.

Back in 1997, when the film was originally released, “Selena” spent fifteen weeks at the box office. It’s time in theaters proved that Latinos could not only direct films, but they could star in them as well while also drawing massive audiences to movie theater seats. At the time, the film marked a breakout moment for actress, singer, and dancer Jennifer Lopez.

If you’re in NYC this weekend and plan on attending the screening, here are some fun facts to remember while watching!

Fans of Selena protested when they learned Jennifer Lopez was playing Selena.

Selena /Warner Bros.

Selena’s fans began protesting the film once they learned that Jennifer Lopez was taking on the role of their beloved singer. Many thought that Lopez, a Puerto Rican from New York, was unfit to play the Mexican-American from Texas.

Six other women gave J.Lo a run for her money.

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Selena /Warner Bros.

Three women from the open call were selected and three other actresses including Salma Hayek and Bibi Gaytán were considered.

Jackie Guerra lied about her talents.

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Selena /Warner Bros.

Jackie Guera who played the role of Suzette, wanted the role so badly that she lied at her audition and said that she was an expert drummer. Suzette later gave her private lessons.

“Selena” almost became a victim of brownface.

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Selena /Warner Bros.

The film’s director had to fight to get Lopez the role of Selena. At the time, Warner Bros was considering a non-Latina actress to take on the role which would have been AWFUL.

Jennifer Lopez lip-synched

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Selena /Warner Bros.

Creators feared that fans would be upset if they saw Lopez singing the song on her own. So Lopez was coached to lip-synch instead.

Abraham Quintanilla didn’t want to show Selena’s murder.

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Selena /Warner Bros.

The film which came out just two years after Selena’s death was likely a very hard project for Abraham to work on. He didn’t want to show his daughter’s death but the film’s director convinced him it was necessary.

Constance Marie could be Jennifer Lopez’s sister.

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Selena /Warner Bros.

Lopez and Marie play mother and daughter in the movie. But in real life, Marie is only 4 years older than Jennifer Lopez.