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Featured Books and DVDs: Latinx Heritage

Titles are laid out face up on a block background. They include , in order from the top and left, DVD Nobody's Watching, book Musica Popular na America Latina, DVD Searching for Sugar Man, book The Siete Table, book City of Clowns, book The Latin Beat, DVD Retablo, book Suggest Paradise, DVD Viva, book Joteria Communication Studies, and DVD Palante, Siempre, Palante!

Each year from September 15 to October 15, the Penn community joins La Casa Latina in celebrating Latinx Heritage Month. The Penn Libraries has curated a collection of books and DVDs that showcase stories from across Latin America and featuring Latinx people in the United States. Explore Latinx contributions to music, graphic novels, poetry, and more – or follow someone’s journey emigrating from Latin America to the United States and trying to build a life and a community in a new place.

As always, you can find the selections highlighted below, and many more, on display on the first floor of the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center, next to New Books.

Note: The descriptions below are collected from publishers and edited for brevity and clarity.  


Suggest Paradise: Poems by Ray González

Born and raised in El Paso, Texas, Ray Gonzalez returns to Texas and nearby New Mexico to meditate on love, literature, loss, and la línea (the line). The collection offers readers rich and complex poems that embody the Southwest and the borderlands, including a poignant look at the massacre at the El Paso Walmart. A unique voice of the Southwest, Gonzalez brings his intellect and his well-honed craft to this work and offers readers a nuanced and powerful perspective on poetry and the Border.

The Latin Beat: The Rhythms and Roots of Latin Music from Bossa Nova to Salsa and Beyond by Ed Morales

The Latin explosion of Marc Anthony, Ricky Martin, and the Buena Vista Social Club may look like it came out of nowhere, but the incredible variety of Latin music has been transforming the United States since the turn of the century, when Caribbean beats turned New Orleans music into jazz. The Latin Beat outlines the musical styles of each country, then traces each form as it migrates north. Morales chronicles the development of the samba in Brazil and salsa in New York, explores the connection between the mambo craze of the 1950’s with the Cuban craze of today, and uncovers the hidden history of Latinos in rock and hip hop, exploring where the music has come from and celebrating all the directions it is going.

Theories of the Flesh: Latinx and Latin American Feminisms, Transformation, and Resistance edited by Andrea J. Pitts, Mariana Ortega, and José Medina

This volume of essays stages an intergenerational dialogue among philosophers to introduce and deepen engagement with U.S Latinx and Latin American feminist philosophy, and to explore their "theories in the flesh." It explores specific intellectual contributions in various topics in U.S. Latinx and Latin American feminisms that stand alone and are unique and valuable; analyzes critical contributions that U.S. Latinx and Latin American interventions have made in feminist thought more generally over the last several decades; and shows the intellectual and transformative value of reading U.S Latinx and Latin American feminist theorizing.

Tales from la Vida: A Latinx Comics Anthology edited by Frederick Luis Aldama

Tales from la Vida brings together more than 80 contributions by extraordinary Latinx creators. Their short visual-verbal narratives spring from autobiographical experience as situated within the language, culture, and history that inform Latinx identity and life. Whether it’s detailing the complexities of growing up – mono- or multilingual, bicultural, straight, queer, or feminist Latinx – or focusing on aspects of pop culture, these graphic vignettes demonstrate the expansive complexity of Latinx identities.

En Comunidad: Lessons for Centering the Voices and Experiences of Bilingual Latinx Students by Carla España and Luz Yadira Herrera

Drs. Carla España and Luz Yadira Herrera’s schooling and teaching journey reveal the power of educators to create either liberating or dehumanizing spaces and experiences for bilingual Latinx students. As the largest group of bilinguals in the U.S., bilingual Latinx students need teachers to not just welcome them into their classrooms, but also to advocate with and for them, for their languages, and for their lives. En Comunidad offers classroom-ready lessons that amplify the varied stories and identities of Latinx children.


Brincando El Charco (Jumping the Puddle): Portrait of a Puerto Rican

This 1994 film contemplates the notion of “identity” through the experiences of a Puerto Rican woman living in the U.S. In a mix of fiction, archival footage, processed interviews, and soap opera drama, Brincando El Charco tells the story of Claudia Marin, a middle-class, light-skinned Puerto Rican photographer/videographer who is attempting to construct a sense of community in the U.S. Confronting the simultaneity of both her privilege and her oppression, the film becomes a meditation on class, race, and sexuality as shifting differences.

Decade of Fire

In the 1970s, the Bronx was on fire. Abandoned by city government, nearly a half-million people were displaced as their close-knit, multi-ethnic neighborhood burned, reducing the community to rubble. While insidious government policies caused the devastation, Black and Puerto Rican residents bore the blame. In this story of hope and resistance, Bronx-born Vivian Vázquez Irizarry exposes the truth about the borough's untold history and reveals how her embattled and maligned community chose to resist, remain and rebuild.

Pelo Malo (Bad Hair)

In Spanish with English subtitles, Pelo Malo chronicles the life of 9-year-old Junior, living in a bustling Caracas tenement with his widowed mother. Junior fears he has pelo malo – bad hair. For his school photo, he wants to iron his stubbornly curly mane straight to resemble one of his pop star idols. His mother has serious misgivings; she suspects her son is gay. Writer-director Mariana Rondón grounds her film in the cultural realities of working-class Venezuela – and finds warmth and humor between mother and son, even as the uncertainties of pre-adolescence threaten to pull them apart.

East Side Sushi

Juana, a working-class, single mother, decides to take a job at a local Japanese restaurant. Against all odds, she fights to achieve her dream of becoming a sushi chef despite the restaurant owner’s concern that the position being held by a woman who is not Japanese will harm from the restaurant’s authenticity. Ultimately Juana works to prove herself in a “Champions of Sushi” competition.

Nobody’s Watching

Nico leaves a promising acting career in Argentina after a romantic break-up with his married producer. He lands in New York City, lured into believing that his talent will help him succeed "on his own". But that's not what he discovers. The film is called an underappreciated “streaming gem” by a writer at The Guardian. 



September 13, 2023