10 Afro-Latina Writers You Should Read Right Now

Assistant professor of literature and creative writing at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, Jennifer Maritza McCauley (Electric Literature) highlights “Poets, fiction writers, and memoirists who capture what it’s like to inhabit multiple identities.” [Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.]

The author briefly describes her own short story collection, When Trying to Return Home (Counterpoint LLC, 2023), and work by other Afro-Latina writers: Elizabeth Acevedo’s The Poet X, Ariana Brown’s We Are Owed and Sana Sana, Jaquira Díaz’s Ordinary Girls, Amina Gautier’s The Loss of All Lost Thing and Now We Will Be Happy, Raina León’s black god mother this body, Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa’s Daughters of Stone and A Woman of Endurance, Jasminne Mendez’s Night-Blooming Jasmin(n)e, Yesenia Montilla’s The Pink Box and Muse Found in a Colonized Body, Ivelisse Rodríguez’s Love War Stories and Mayra Santos-Febres’s Sirena Selena and Huracanada. Read the article at Electric Literature. McCauley writes:

I’ve struggled with finding belonging my entire life. I grew up 30 minutes outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and spent most of my teenage years jumping from O’Hara Township, a white suburb, to the Hill District, a bustling Black area, and to Puerto Rico, where some of my family resides. In my school district, I was exposed largely to white writers, and I searched for my heritage on my own in books. As a teenager, I fell in love with James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Octavia Butler, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Huston, Heidi W. Durrow and Edwidge Danticat. When I read their words, I felt like my Black experiences were valid, vibrant, and alive. Writing gave me a space where I could be myself, where I could bring my bifurcated experiences together. When I read books by Black authors, it made me feel like someday I could write a book. 

I found that I was hungry for representation everywhere I went. I’m the daughter of Black American father and Puerto Rican mother, and I wondered if there were any writers out there like me, who were both Black and Latina. After finding Mayra Santos-Febres on a bookshelf in San Juan, and after researching more about Afro-Latine literature and getting to know wonderful Black Latine writers all over the country, I felt like I had found a kind of literary home. 

In my short story collection When Trying to Return Home, my main characters, Black Americans and Afro Latines, struggle with the feeling of belonging, on the search for home and freedom whether it’s in Puerto Rico or Miami. 

Our voices should be heard and Afro-Latinas deserve a spot in the literary canon. The following list includes amazing Afro-Latina writers whose work has given me strength, validity and power. These women are truth-tellers, they say the unsayable, they capture what it’s like to inhabit multiple identities. I hope you buy their work. [. . .]

For full article, see https://electricliterature.com/10-afro-latina-writers-you-should-read-right-now

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