Short Fiction by Hispanic Writers of the United States Summary
by Nicholás Kanellos

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Short Fiction by Hispanic Writers of the United States

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Because it omits Hispanic fiction in the United States written in Spanish, this collection of stories in English does not represent the full breadth of Hispanic creative writing in this country. However, it is an impressive group of stories that does much to belie the simple stereotypes about Hispanic culture.

The stories range from the gritty realism of life in the barrios of the Northeast and the deserts of the Southwest to the magical realism associated with the fiction of Julio Cortazar and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Themes include the generation gap between fathers and sons, the brotherhood of barrio gangs, the Hispanic woman’s battle with sexism both within and without her culture, and the search to find the self in the sometimes ambiguous mix of different cultures.

Two of the longest stories in the collection perhaps best represent its variety. “Amena Karanova” by Sabine Ulibarri is a magical story, almost fairy-tale like, of the life of a famous opera singer who marries and settles in New Mexico. In the classic straightforward style of the traditional storyteller, Ulibarri recounts a lyrical mythic tale of supernatural power and the immortality of love. “Faustino” by Max Martinez, on the other hand, is a shockingly realistic account of physical desire and racial and sexual stereotypes in the rural Southwest. Whereas Ulibarri’s style is classically genteel, Martinez’s language is a purposeful, no-holds-barred, assault on the reader’s sensibilities. An engaging story about the life of women in the barrio that combines both realism and magical fantasy is Nicholasa Mohr’s “Aunt Rosana’s Rocker.”

By making the works of these emerging Hispanic writers available to a larger public, this collection performs a valuable service in furthering a cultural dialogue that is long overdue and becoming increasingly imperative.