Column: Want to see more Latinos in books? Start by reading these titles that appeal to them.
In the wake of the election of Donald Trump, we have to ask: Why are there so few Latino novelists, poets and playwrights?
To many, the answer is obvious: Literature, like many arts, is predominantly white. Only 3 percent of novelists are people of color, according to a recent report by the National Book Foundation, while fewer than 10 percent of poets are, and about one-quarter of playwrights are. The reasons for this are complex and multiple. There are obviously different tastes among people of color and the majority (white) can do a lot to correct our own biases. But, too often, the white culture of literature and poetry and drama feeds on a more pervasive and unacknowledged racism that is not only unconscious, but widely accepted within American society.
We live in a country where the majority of books are written by white authors, and a little more than half of all authors are white. We read, we enjoy, we talk about the stuff we read. We don’t think much about what happens when a writer of color writes or when a white person writes. We have to look at what’s happened to Latino writers over the decades and the reasons for their marginalization.
We thought we were seeing the first waves of Latino novels coming to the nation’s literary consciousness beginning in 1960s Harlem and San Francisco. But we have been wrong.
If you look up Latino fiction on the shelves of booksellers, you will see many different, but almost always white, names: Alfonso Caso, Gabriel García Márquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, Carlos Fuentes, Gabriel García Marquez, Junot Díaz… In fact, Latino fiction is a late arrival to the literary radar, and it has not been as hot as it is now.
We thought we