The course Global Literature: Modern Writings from Women of the Non-Western World was one of the most important college classes I’ve ever taken as a writer. Dr. Jo Dulan at Salem College taught this literature course. It allowed me the ability to break out of US literature and explore books on a more global scale from the vital perspective of a woman writer.
In appreciation of this experience, I have researched a few authors from various countries, provinces, regions, etc. outside of the USA that have translated works available in English; many of the writers have works available in their native tongues and other languages as well. This series is merely a tool to introduce you to a large amount of important writers.
I do not propose that the written works or the writers that I feature are the most important, the most popular, or are able to speak for an entire identity or culture. Rather, I am hoping to simply give suggestions to create interest in global literature. It is important to recognize writers — especially women, who are often underrepresented — from all parts of the world.
Keep an open mind as you read. Sometimes things are lost in translation, and sometimes a subject may take more research to understand.
This post will cover a few authors from Mexico. Please feel free to suggest additional authors in the comments.
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, whose original name was Juana Ramírez de Asbaje, was born in San Miguel Nepantla, Mexico. She was a writer at the end of the Hispanic Baroque period, a scholar, and a nun. During the Latin American colonial period, she wrote poetry and plays.
Try this: Poems, Protest, and a Dream: Selected Writings by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz
Overview of Poems, Protest, and a Dream: Selected Writings via barnesandnoble.com:
“Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz (1648-1695) wrote her most famous prose work, La Respuesta a Sor Filotea, in 1691 in response to her bishop’s injunction against her intellectual pursuits. A passionate and subversive defense of the rights of women to study, to teach, and to write, it predates by almost a century and a half serious writings on any continent about the position and education of women.
“Also included in this wide-ranging selection is a new translation of Sor Juana’s masterpiece, the epistemological poem ‘Primero Sueno,’ as well as revealing autobiographical sonnets, reverential religious poetry, secular love poems (which have excited speculation through three centuries), playful verses, and lyrical tributes to New World culture that are among the earliest writings celebrating the people and the customs of this hemisphere.”
Laura Esquivel is a modern-day screenwriter, educator, journalist, and author. She was born in Mexico City, Mexico.
Try this: Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
Overview of Like Water for Chocolate via barnesandnoble.com:
“Earthy, magical, and utterly charming, this tale of family life in turn-of-the-century Mexico became a best-selling phenomenon with its winning blend of poignant romance and bittersweet wit. The classic love story takes place on the De la Garza ranch, as the tyrannical owner, Mama Elena, chops onions at the kitchen table in her final days of pregnancy. While still in her mother’s womb, her daughter to be weeps so violently she causes an early labor, and little Tita slips out amid the spices and fixings for noodle soup. This early encounter with food soon becomes a way of life, and Tita grows up to be a master chef. She shares special points of her favorite preparations with listeners throughout the story.”
Nellie Campobello, born in Ocampo, Durango, was a writer living during the time period of the Mexican Revolution and the Mexican Renaissance. Along with being an important writer of her time, she was also a dancer and choreographer.
Try this: Cartucho and My Mother’s Hands by Nellie Campobello
Overview of Cartucho and My Mother’s Hands via barnesandnoble.com:
“Nellie Campobello, a prominent Mexican writer and ‘novelist of the Revolution,’ played an important role in Mexico’s cultural renaissance in the 1920s and early 1930s, along with such writers as Rafael Muñoz and Gregorio López y Fuentes and artists Diego Rivera, Orozco, and others. Her two novellas, Cartucho (first published in 1931) and My Mother’s Hands (first published as Las manos de Mamá in 1938), are autobiographical evocations of a childhood spent amidst the violence and turmoil of the Revolution in Mexico. Campobello’s memories of the Revolution in the north of Mexico, where Pancho Villa was a popular hero and a personal friend of her family, show not only the stark realism of Cartucho but also the tender lyricism of My Mother’s Hands. They are noteworthy, too, as a first-person account of the female experience in the early years of the Mexican Revolution and unique in their presentation of events from a child’s perspective.”