Exploring the Latino Metropolis: A Brief Urban Cultural History of US Latinos

Latino Literature in Chicago

Chicago is a home to a group of prominent Latino writers that have helped shape the culture of the city by capturing its essence in novels. The majority of these authors write about their experiences growing up in the city and the challenges of living in their respective Latino neighborhood. One such author is Sandra Cisneros. Sandra Cisneros is a Latina author, born in Chicago in 1954. She grew up in Humboldt Park, a poor neighborhood with a Puerto Rican majority. Her most famous book is House on Mango Street, a coming of age novel about a young girl growing up around the Chicano and Puerto Rican areas of Chicago. In this novel, we see Cisneros’s portrayal of a run down, poorer Latino neighborhood of Chicago. She talks a great deal about the struggle to escape these communities and also touches on the connectivity of the Latino community as she constantly references wanting to “come back for those she left behind.” Cisneros now teaches in San Antonio where she continues to mentor young Latino writers. This novel is taught in many high schools across the United States. (1) This is an excellent example on how the Chicago Latino experience is extremely well documented within the humanities. The Latino literature emanating from the city stretches across national boarders and is well read in a majority of the country. Some other Latino authors include Leonard G. Ramírez with Yenelli Flores, María Gamboa, Isaura González, Victoria Pérez, Magda Ramírez-Castañeda, and Cristina Vita. All of these writers talk about their struggles growing up in their neighborhoods and how they overcame these difficulties. This also offers an outlet of expression and a medium of escape for the youth still in these neighborhoods as they can easily turn to the arts and their literary role models for guidance in the Chicago metropolis.

1) Nash, Andrea, and Sandra Cisneros. "The House on Mango Street." TESOL Quarterly 23.2 (1989): 326. Web.

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