Discovering the Trailblazers of Latino Literature

LatinaLista — It is said that the first printing press in the United States was a Spanish-language press that arrived almost 80 years before the first recorded arrival of the English-language press.
Yet, because the press was in Spanish, its presence is overlooked in the annals of the English-written U.S. history.

It’s the same story with today’s Latino writers and journalists. After years of penning short stories, poems or having bylines, the Latino/a contributions to popular literature and mainstream journalism have historically received little, if any, notice.
However it is changing, but it hasn’t come without a struggle by those first Latino/a authors.
As a way to remember those who blazed the trail for Latino literature and journalism, author Jamie Martinez Wood researched those authors and compiled them in the book Latino Writers and Journalists: A to Z of Latino Americans.

Over 150 Latino/a writers of distinction are profiled by Wood with a concise biography of each subject followed by a list of additional sources to learn more about the person.
From such well-known figures as Isabel Allende, Sandra Cisneros and Gary Soto to lesser-known figures such as Jovita Idar and Arnold Rojas, the text illuminates each author’s life, their journey to self-expression through the written word and contributions in establishing Latino/a identity/presence during times when it was hard for writers of color to be appreciated for their perspectives.
In addition to providing the bios, a helpful feature of the book is the breakdown by ethnicity and country of origin, birthdates and topic matter of each writer .
So instead of leafing through the 268 pages searching for that one author who may write on social protest literature, a quick scan of the list reveals 32 writers who fit that profile.
However, with more and more Latino/a writers breaking barriers to get published or being belatedly discovered, it stands to reason that this is only the first volume recognizing Latino writing talent —with many more to come.