I’ve really enjoyed reading my friends’ lists of 10 books most influential to them, a meme popular right now on Facebook. I’ve crafted mine and several in the top 20 (because a librarian can’t stop at 10) are books by Hispanic authors.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s lyrical storytelling in One Hundred Years of Solitude, the complicated relationships in Mario Vargas Llosa’s The Bad Girl, and the haunting world of Aura by Carlos Fuentes have expanded my worldview and contributed to my understanding of Hispanic heritage and culture.
Another book on my list that really challenged me as a reader and stretched my perception of fiction as a genre is The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. In Wao, Diaz tells the story of overweight nerd Oscar and his search for love, while simultaneously giving the reader a history lesson on the Dominican Republic and disclosing the real reason behind Oscar’s bad luck: a family curse. The story jumps from New Jersey to the Dominican Republic and back again, capturing both the experiences of Dominican Americans and lovesick teenage boys in a warm, humorous way.
As I prepare for a trip to the Dominican Republic, I know Oscar Wao is coming with me, so I can relive Oscar’s endearing geekiness and Diaz’s rich storytelling. I’m also packing a few other titles by Hispanic authors in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month and to pay tribute to the talented authors who have positively influenced many—myself included.