Latino/a and Chicano/a Literature in the United States
Chicano (Mexican American) literature began to establish itself in the United States in the 1960s. This period, sometimes known as the Chicano Renaissance, was in part inspired by the Civil Rights movement. Chicano writers emphasized the need for political action to provide equal opportunities for Chicanos. One of the leading figures in this movement was Tomás Rivera (1935–1984), whose novel y no se lo trago la tierra/And the Earth Did Not Part (1971) told of the hardships endured by Mexican American migrant workers. In 1972, Rudolfo Anaya (1937–) published Bless Me, Ultima, which has become one of the most popular of all Mexican American novels.
In the 1980s, mainstream publishers became more willing to publish works by Chicano and other Latino writers (such as Cuban Americans or Puerto Ricans), in part because of the movement in colleges and universities known as multiculturalism, in which efforts were made to reshape the literary canon to better reflect cultural diversity in America. Minority authors were thus given a better chance of being published and acquiring a large readership. It was during the 1980s that Chicano poet Gary Soto (1952–) made his mark nationally, and a number of Mexican American women writers found their literary voices, including Lorna Dee Cervantes (1954–), Gloria Anzaldua (1942–), Denise Chavez (1948–), and Sandra Cisneros. These women writers successfully articulated the desires and experiences of Mexican American women. They challenged the values of the patriarchal societies in which they were raised, while at the same time affirming their distinctive Mexican American heritage.
It was in the 1990s that Latino literature made its biggest breakthroughs into mainstream literary publishing and readership. In 1990 Oscar Hijuelos (1951–) became the first Latino to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, for his novel...
(The entire section is 511 words.)