Hello, readers! Welcome to another #5OnMyTBR update. The rule is relatively simple. I just have to pick five books from my to-be-read pile that fit the week’s theme.
This week’s theme: Cozy
While the weekly prompts for 5 on my TBR have resumed, I have instead decided to pursue what I have already started in the past three weeks, which was to feature works of American literature. But American literature, on its own, is vast. As such, I have divided it into parts. I already featured works of Asian American writers, Native American writers, and African American writers. For this week, I will be featuring the works of Hispanic American writers. The influences of Hispanic and Latin culture on contemporary America are ubiquitous and they have also trickled into American literature. The recent years saw the remarkable rise of American writers with Hispanic and Latin heritages. Many have become prominent and highly-heralded writers, even winning prestigious literary awards such as the Pulitzer Prize. While I have read my fair share of their works, I know that I have barely scratched the surface. Without more ado, here are works of Hispanic American literature I can’t wait to immerse myself in. Happy Monday and happy reading!
5OnMyTBR is a bookish meme hosted by E. @ Local Bee Hunter’s Nook where you chose five books from your to-be-read pile that fit that week’s theme. If you’d like more info, head over to the announcement post!
Title: The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love
Author: Oscar Hijuelos
Publisher: Perennial Classics
Publishing Date: 2000
No. of Pages: 448
Synopsis: It’s 1949. It’s the era of the mambo, and two young Cuban musicians make their way up from Havana to the grand stage of New York. The Castillo brothers, workers by day, become by night stars of the dance halls, where their orchestra plays the lush, sensuous, pulsing music that earns them the title of the Mambo Kings. This is their moment of young – a golden time that thirty years later will be remembered with nostalgia and deep affection. In The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, Oscar Hijuelos has created a rich and enthralling novel about passion and loss, memory and desire.
Title: Neruda on the Park
Author: Cleyvis Natera
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publishing Date: 2022
No. of Pages: 319
Synopsis: The Guerreros have lived in Nothar Park, a predominantly Dominican part of New York City, for twenty years. When demolition begins on a neighboring tenement, Eusebia, an elder of the community, takes matters into her own hands by devising an increasingly dangerous series of schemes to stop construction of the luxury condos. Meanwhile, Eusebia’s daughter, Luz, a rising associate at a top Manhattan law firm who strives to live the bougie lifestyle her parents worked hard to give her, becomes distracted by a sweltering romance with the handsome white developer at the company her mother so vehemently opposes.
As Luz’s father, Vladimir, secretly designs their retirement home in the Dominican Republic, mother and daughter collide, ramping up tensions in Nothar ark as the novel races toward a near-fatal climax.
A beautifully layered portrait of family, friendship, and ambition that announces Cleyvis Natera as an electrifying new voice, Neruda on the Park weaves a rich and vivid tapestry of community as well as the sacrifices we make to protect what we love most.
Title: The Hacienda
Author: Isabel Cañas
Publishing Date: 2022
No. of Pages: 337
Synopsis: During the overthrow of the Mexican government, Beatriz’s father was executed and her home destroyed. When handsome Don Rodolfo Solórzano proposes, Beatriz ignores the rumors surrounding his first wife’s sudden demise, choosing instead to seize the security that his estate in the countryside provides. She will have her own home again, no matter the cost.
But Hacienda San Isidro is not the sanctuary she imagined.
When Rodolfo returns to work in the capital, visions and voices invade Beatriz’s sleep. The weight of invisible eyes follows her every move. Rodolfo’s sister, Juana, scoffs at Beatriz’s fears—but why does she refuse to enter the house at night? Why does the cook burn copal incense at the edge of the kitchen and mark the doorway with strange symbols? What really happened to the first Doña Solórzano?
Beatriz only knows two things for certain: Something is wrong with the hacienda. And no one there will save her.
Desperate for help, she clings to the young priest, Padre Andrés, as an ally. No ordinary priest, Andrés will have to rely on his skills as a witch to fight off the malevolent presence haunting the hacienda and protect the woman for whom he feels a powerful, forbidden attraction. But even he might not be enough to battle the darkness.
Far from a refuge, San Isidro may be Beatriz’s doom.
Title: Under the Feet of Jesus
Author: Helena Maria Viramontes
Publisher: Plume Books
Publishing Date: April 1996
No. of Pages: 180
Synopsis: This exquisitely sensitive novel has the tensile strength of steel as it captures the conflict of cultures, the bitterness of wants, the sweetness of love, and the landscape of the human heart. At the center of this powerful tale is Estrella, a girl about to cross the perilous border to womanhood. What she knows of life comes from her mother, who has survived abandonment by her husband in a land that treats her as if she were invisible, even though she and her children pick the crops of the farms that feed its people. But within Estrella, seeds of growth and change are stirring. And in the arms of Alejo, they burst into a full, fierce flower as she tastes the joy and pain of first love. Pushed to the margins of society, she learns to fight back and is able to help the young farmworker she loves when his ambitions and very life are threatened in a harvest of death. Infused with the beauty of the California landscape and shifting splendors of the passing seasons juxtaposed with the bleakness of poverty, this vividly imagined novel is worthy of the people it celebrates and whose story it tells so magnificently. The simple, lyrical beauty of Viramontes’s prose, her haunting use of image and metaphor, and the urgency of her themes all announce Under the Feet of Jesus as a landmark work of American fiction.
Title: Dreaming in Cuban
Author: Cristina Garcia
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publishing Date: 2017
No. of Pages: 245
Synopsis: Cristina Garcia’s acclaimed book is the haunting, bittersweet story of a family experiencing a country’s revolution and the revelations that follow. The lives of Celia del Pino and her husband, daughters, and grandchildren mirror the magical realism of Cuba itself, a landscape of beauty and poverty, idealism and corruption. Dreaming in Cuban is “a work that possesses both the intimacy of a Chekhov story and the hallucinatory magic of a novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez” (The New York Times). In celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the novel’s original publication, this edition features a new introduction by the author.
Title: In the Time of the Butterflies
Author: Julia Alvarez
Synopsis: Set during the waning days of the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic in 1960, this extraordinary novel tells the story of the Mirabal sisters, three young wives, and mothers who are assassinated after visiting their jailed husbands.
From the author of How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents comes this tale of courage and sisterhood set in the Dominican Republic during the rise of the Trujillo dictatorship. A skillful blend of fact and fiction, In the Time of the Butterflies is inspired by the true story of the three Mirabal sisters who, in 1960, were murdered for their part in an underground plot to overthrow the government. Alvarez breathes life into these historical figures–known as “las mariposas,” or “the butterflies,” in the underground–as she imagines their teenage years, their gradual involvement with the revolution, and their terror as their dissentience is uncovered.
Alvarez’s controlled writing perfectly captures the mounting tension as “the butterflies” near their horrific end. The novel begins with the recollections of Dede, the fourth surviving sister, who fears abandoning her routines and her husband to join the movement. Alvarez also offers the perspectives of the other sisters: brave and outspoken Minerva, the family’s political ringleader; pious Patria, who forsakes her faith to join her sisters after witnessing the atrocities of the tyranny; and the baby sister, sensitive Maria Teresa, who, in a series of diaries, chronicles her allegiance to Minerva and the physical and spiritual anguish of prison life. (Source: Goodreads)