Wednesday, September 10, 2014

National Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month: The Nuyorican Movement

Julie Demoff-Larson
With the upcoming celebration of National Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month (September 15-October 15), I thought it would be nice to take a look through my collection of books and see what authors, novels, and collections written by Latino authors still stand out for me. I have always been drawn to literature that is steeped in folklore and tradition while mixing contemporary settings and ideals, so it wasn’t surprising to me to find a number of Nuyorican works scatting in the mix.
The Nuyorican Movement began in the late 1960s and early 1970s in several New York City neighborhoods such as East Harlem and South Bronx. The movement was a way to validate the Puerto Rican population that had long been ridiculed, marginalized, and discriminated against. The term Nuyorican was first penned as an insult, but artists and writers living in the area transformed the word’s meaning into a symbol of Puerto Rican pride.  The movement gave way to numerous Puerto Rican visual artists, writers, and musicians who were creating work based on their cultural experiences while living in New York.
One of my favorite Nuyorican writers is Nicholasa Mohr. Her work depicts the everyday lives of Puerto Rican families living in El Barrio, Spanish Harlem where she grew up. The realities of the world the characters live in do not overshadow the compassion, humor, or loyalty the community thrives on in her stories. Mohr’s short story collections and novels in such as El Bronx and In Nueva York are not just for adults, but are appropriate for YA readers as well. These books open young readers up to new cultures and are helpful to understand the historical context of immigration. Mohr’s children and young adult books have won numerous awards including the New York Times Book of the Year.
Other Nuyorican authors you may enjoy:                                                                            

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