September 15 - October 15 is Latino Heritage month wherein we celebrate the achievements of Latinx people and recognize their contributions to American culture. Each year during this time, the Literature & Fiction department pulls together books by Latinx and Spanish language authors to honor their work. While you, unfortunately, can’t browse our physical collection at this time, we can bring those works, and their film adaptations, right to you through our streaming vendors and Library to Go service! Read on to learn more about several incredible books and films by Spanish language writers..
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The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende is the award-winning author's debut novel. The tale follows the Trueba family over the course of three tumultuous generations. Esteban Trueba raised himself out of poverty and built his family’s wealth through the exploitation of the local peasants. When his daughter Blanca falls in love with a man Esteban deems below her station, his anger sets off a chain of events that will bring about great change, both for his family and his country. Allende’s powerful novel looks at how fate, personal choice, and love shape our stories. The 1993 film adaptation stars Glen Close, Meryl Streep, Jeremy Irons, Antonio Banderas and Winona Ryder.
Laura Esquivel’s book, Like Water for Chocolate, is a classic work of magical realism. As the youngest daughter of the family, Tita de la Garza may not marry but must instead care for her mother for the remainder of her life. So her heart breaks when Pedro, the love of her life, marries her sister in order to remain close to her. Tita’s only outlet is her cooking, at which she excels. As Pedro and Tita try to contain their passions, Tita’s emotions spill over into her food, affecting everyone around her. At the time of its release, the 1992 film adaptation of this novel was the highest grossing foreign language film released in the US.
One of the most influential pieces of literature in the Western canon, Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes follows the adventures of the delusional Alonso Quixano, whose love of chivalric literature has turned his head. Believing himself to be a knight named Don Quixote, he travels the land in search of trials to test his chivalry and serve his country. Over the years, Cervantes’ classic tale has been seen as both a comedy and a tragedy in that you can laugh at Don Quixote’s antics or you can weep at a world that dismisses his bravery and idealism as madness. The 2015 film adaptation was produced by James Franco and stars Horacio Sanz and Luis Guzman.
In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez is a historical fiction novel about the Mirabal sisters; four women whose activism helped to bring down the Trujillo regime in the Dominican Republic. They faced imprisonment, beatings and intimidation as they fought one of the bloodiest regimes in the history of the Americas. Alvarez’s book looks at the lives of these incredible women and the lengths they were willing to go for their country. The 2001 made for TV film starring Salma Hayek and Edward James Olmos can be streamed on Hoopla.
Love in the Time of Cholera is the fourth book written by Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez, and one of his most famous. Florentino has loved Fermina for as long as he can remember. In their youth, they swore oaths of love but they were torn apart by her disapproving father and societal expectations. From afar, Florentino watched Fermina get engaged, then married and finally widowed. After fifty years apart, he will once again declare his love. Márquez’s beloved classic explores the differences between the passion of youth and the love of old age. The 2007 film adaptation stars Javier Bardem and Benjamin Bratt. You can use our Library To Go service to place a hold on the DVD for pickup.
The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos was the first novel by an American born Hispanic author to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It follows two Cuban brothers, Cesar and Nestor, who immigrate to the United States and find moderate fame with their band Mambo Kings. As Cesar reflects upon his life and all that he gained and lost, he speaks to the immigrant experience and the sacrifices made in leaving Cuba for the United States. The 1991 film adaptation, Mambo Kings, stars Antonio Banderas and Armand Asante as the Castillo brothers. Try out our Library To Go service by placing a hold on a copy of the DVD today!
Kiss of the Spider Woman by Manuel Puig is the Argentianian authors most successful book. In a prison cell in Argentina, two very different men find themselves locked up together. Luis Molina, a gay hairdresser, and Valentín Arregui, an ardent revolutionary, pass the time by telling their life stories and recounting their favorite films. As the two get to know one another and the reasons behind their imprisonments, they form an intimate bond. The 1985 award winning film adaptation stars Raul Julia and William Hurt as the two prisoners. Take advantage of our Library To Go service to borrow the DVD.
The Alatriste series by Arturo Pérez-Reverte is a series of novels that follow the life and adventures of Captain Alatriste, a Spanish soldier in the 17th century. From the battlefront to doomed love affairs to mysterious masked men, this series takes the reader along on classic swashbuckling adventures. The 2006 film adaptation stars Vigo Mortensen as the titular character. You can place a hold on the DVD here.
Our final film is not based on a particular novel, but on the life of the author Paulo Coelho. Coelho is a Brazilian novelist most well known for his work The Alchemist. Prior to becoming a writer, Coelho was a songwriter whose work was considered dangerous and resulted in his being harassed and arrested by the government. The film Paulo Coelho’s Best Story is a fictionalized account of Coelho’s difficult early life and his road to success. You can check out Coelho’s works here or stream the film on hoopla today.