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As the daughters and sons and grandchildren of Mexican immigrants spread through the United States, more and more of the country is acquiring a Spanish accent. And in Mexico there are very few families that don't have connections en el otro ladro, on the other side. The collisions and cross fertilization among cultures on both sides of the border has fractured realities, redefined identities, and created new dreams--as well as a highly diverse literature that is as rich and varied as any in contemporary literature. There has long been a mutual wariness, however: Chicano and Chicana writers often look to Mexico for their "roots" but do not find a homeland there; and Mexican writers for their part look to their counterparts in the North with suspicion, as not "real" Mexicans.
The Vintage Book of Contemporary Spanish and Chicano & Chicana literature is the first to present these rich literatures together, with a wide range of writers on both sides of the border. In making her selections Cristina García, the acclaimed editor of Cubanísimo: The Vintage Book of Contemporary Cuban Literature has chosen the best work irrespective of borders, but the book's organization respects the separate traditions--the Mexican with its deep roots in pre-colonial and colonial history and the Chicano/Chicana one that has flourished for fifty years. Beginning with Mexican masters like the poet and essayist Alfonso Reyes, whose story "Major Aranda's Hand" exhibits magical realism a decade before the Latin American boom and the poet Xavier Villaurutia, whose poems have haunted generations of Mexican poets, the collection also highlights early voices of Chicano/Chicana literature such as Gloria Anzaldúa, whose essay "How to Tame a Wild Tongue" at once denounced the machismo of Chicano culture and made a case for new forms of Mexican-American language and Rudolfo Anaya, "the godfather of Chicano literature" whose story "B Traven is Alive and Well in Cuernavaca" playfully dramatizes Mexican-American identity.
An excerpt from Carlos Fuentes's magisterial novel The Death of Artemio Cruz offers perspectives on Mexican history, and in his brilliant essay "The Day of the Dead" Octavio Paz shines light on the Mexican psyche. More contemporary Chicano and Chicana selections feature the work of Sandra Cisneros, Ana Castíllo and Ruben Martinez, original voices all, who emerge in an exhilirating new context.
Full of discoveries and surprises, Cristina García's stellar anthology gives us a new vantage point on our continent--and on the best of contemporary literature.