A Puerto Rico Reading List
BOOKS ALSO suffer crises. The book industry in Puerto Rico has always struggled to survive. In times of recession, the situation worsens; it is difficult for cultural projects to receive the necessary support. However, literature in Puerto Rico is alive, it is diverse, and it has never stopped. If there are authors who publish books in Puerto Rico, it is thanks to their self-management and small publishers. This has allowed a space for full creative freedom that is not subject to the conventions or trends of the publishing market. The selection presented here is a sample of some of the most recent books. Each of them reflects on what it means to live on the island.
Lo común también cruje
La Impresora, 2020
The verses in this collection present a fragmented city. Everyday objects form a recognizable map, but they are strange to the reader. This is because the center of all the poems is about fragility and the ephemeral. In this way, the city is not only a geographical space but a state of mind and a way of living reality.
Aterrizar no es regreso
Ediciones Alayubia, 2019
This beautiful chronicle shows that it is not easy to live in uncertain times—life becomes a constant negotiation. Varcárcel recounts his experience leaving the island and returning. The different stories help readers understand the complex reality of many Puerto Ricans after Hurricane Maria. In its pages, the reader witnesses how many times love for a significant other, family, and country transforms people. Likewise, the social, political, economic, and personal crises that many Puerto Ricans are experiencing are present.
Raquel Salas Rivera
Lo terciario / The Tertiary
Timeless, Infinite Light, 2018
Published in 2018, this book was on the National Book Award in Poetry longlist and in 2019 received the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Poetry. It is an intelligent, witty, and beautiful critique of the appalling colonial dynamics of the twenty-first century. Salas Rivera takes one of Karl Marx’s speeches and, from a queer and decolonial perspective, uses it to talk about the debt of Puerto Rico and the PROMESA federal law (the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act).
Cezanne Cardona Morales
Levittown mon amour
Ediciones Callejón, 2018
This book received, in 2018, the National Prize of the Instituto de Literatura Puertorriqueña and the New Voices Award from Puerto Rico’s Festival de la Palabra. Cardona Morales’s stories are full of humanity. These take place in Levittown, an area where mainly working families reside. This collection of five stories portrays the daily lives of characters who fight against moral and economic precariousness. They are very personal struggles but full of solidarity and empathy.
Puerto Rico en mi corazón / Puerto Rico in My Heart
Ed. Carina del Valle Schorske, Ricardo Maldonado, Erica Mena & Raquel Salas Rivera
Anomalous Press, 2019
This poetry anthology emerged as a project to raise funds for the victims of Hurricane Maria. It features poets from the island and the diaspora. This collection uses bilingual aspects to present the multiple dimensions of Puerto Rican culture. The poems are a sampling of the linguistic and cultural diversity of Puerto Rico.
A toda costa: narrativa puertorriqueña reciente
Ed. Mara Pastor
Elefanta Editorial, 2015
This anthology presents a sample of Puerto Rican prose from recent years. The selection includes stories, excerpts from novels, and narrative texts. The axis of the collection lies in contemporaneity. The editor, Mara Pastor, selected authors from different generations but whose texts focus on the conflicts that have been experienced in Puerto Rico since the beginning of the twenty-first century.