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.

 

Jonatan Reyes

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.

 

 

 

Xavier Valcárcel

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.


Photo: Daph’s Photography

Jotacé López (b. Hatillo, Puerto Rico) is a writer and professor. He earned his doctorate at the University of Texas in Austin. His work has been published in journals in Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Mexico, and the United States. Some of his short stories appear in the anthologies Convocadas: Nueva narrativa puertorriqueña (2009), Cuentos de oficio (2015), and A toda costa: Narrativa puertorriqueña reciente (2018). His two short-story collections are Bestiario de caricias (2008) and Arboretum (2016).

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