Friday, June 2, 2017

GUEST ARTICLE: Mexican Bloggers on Mexican Literature

Hello Armchair Book Expo participants! Welcome to day 3 of this wonderful event that brings you all the great things of Book Expo to the comfort of your chair. Today we are talking about diversity so we decided to interview one of my favorite book bloggers and an important member of our diverse bookish community, Rebeca Gutierrez, co-blogger of The Life of a Book Nerd Addict, to discuss a bit about Mexican culture and its representation in YA Literature!

Hi Becky, welcome to Armchair Book Expo headquarters!
Hello Melissa! Thanks for having me, so happy to be here!

First of all, tell us about the last time you read a book with a Mexican character or that talked about Mexican culture?

Rebeca: I read North Of Happy by Adi Alsaid a month ago approximately, and I absolutely loved it! I liked how the main character lived in Mexico and then traveled to the US to do one more thing for his brother, and that thing is something he likes to do the most, cook.

That sounds super interesting! What was some of the food mentioned in the book?

Rebeca: There was a lot of food. One of the things I enjoyed about this book was that every single chapter header was a dish and it actually had all the ingredients for you to make it! There were Quesadillas, Atole, Omelette, etc… The book has more than 10 delicious plates for sure! North of Happy starts with the the MC and his brother looking for the perfect Taco, they basically visit all the Taquerias in search of the perfect Taco (super fun to read about)! I have to admit that sometimes I get annoyed that the only food mentioned in books are Tacos or Tamales, but I was glad that while the book takes readers down familiar roads when it comes to our typical dishes, it also introduces several other Mexican foods. Books RARELY do that.

I agree! I can hardly think of books (that I have read) that mention other foods besidesTacos, so I like the sound of North of Happy! I’m also constantly looking for books that go beyond the stereotypes, and not only about Mexican culture, but others as well. It’s important for them to show more depth and have accurate cultural representation. What are other Mexican stereotypes you wish to see less of in books?

Oh, a silly thing is that I would love to have more Mexican characters with different last names! There are times when we read a book and see a lot of common last names, but there’s actually a lot more to choose from, like in any other countries. We have so many different and unique last names that I think it would be amazing to see more of them in a book, so Mexican readers can truly relate to them! I would be thrilled to read about a character whose last name is like mine, Gutierrez. If you already know a book that has it, let me know because I would absolutely love to read it. ;)

Oh yes, that’s a good one! I would also love to read a character with my last name. If you happened to stumble upon another book about Mexican culture, what would you wish it to explore?

Rebeca: One of the many things I love about Mexico is that we have a lot of traditions and cultures within our own culture (like any other). They all have a very special meaning and if I could see at least one of our traditions accurately portrayed, I would be beyond thrilled. For example El Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) when we make delicious food and we reunite with our family to make a little tribute for those that have left us. And the other one that I like the most is El Día de los Reyes Magos (Day of the Three Wise Men) which has a very special and magical meaning to us, celebrated on January 6th. I think it would make a book even more special to us :)
OMG YES!!!! I would also love to read about people experiencing El Día de los Reyes Magos in literature. Would you ever consider writing a book about that, or any other aspect of Mexican culture?

Rebeca: I totally would love to! When I was in High School I started to write a book that had a Mexican MC. The plot has been changing ever since lol, but I wrote about some of my favorite traditions there, like the ones mentioned above. <3 span="">

Well I would love to read a book from you! #Ownvoices books rock. Thank you so much for sharing this with us, Rebeca. There’s definitely a lot about Mexican culture that is yet to be portrayed in literature and I hope we get to see more of it in YA.

Rebeca: Aww thank you so much Melissa! It really means a lot and thanks again for having me, I loved to share my opinion with you and also hear your thoughts!

Becky Book Nerd Addict.jpg

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  1. Thanks for this great presentation.
    Did I read too fast? I can't see any mention of the language itself. Because of my bilingualism, I know by experience that you really can't fully access a culture without knowing its language. So for me, if I want to read a book about Mexico, I will at least read a book translated from Spanish (the Spanish used in Mexico), not a book directly written in English. If possible, I may even read it in Spanish.
    Otherwise you may find a pseudo presentation of the culture.
    There's a LOT of Mexican culture in literature, you just need to read authors really born there and writing in their own language.
    Just an invitation to go deeper here in diversity.

    I actually did that for my 52 countries project, and read a book by Octavio Paz, a major figure in Mexican literature, who even won the Novel Prize of Literature - my 2012 review is here:

  2. I definitely need to pick up North of Happy. I live on the border of the US and Mexico so my spanish and my experience is a lot different then others and the only book I found that is like me was Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe. It understood how it was to live in a border town. My last name is really rare that I hardly find anyone with it in literature but it would be so cool to find it.