Other books byIlan Stavans
The Making of a New American Language
With the release of the census figures in 2000, Latino America wasanointed the future driving force of American culture. The emergence of Spanglish as a form of communication is one of the more influential markers of an America gone Latino. Spanish, present on this continent since the fifteenth century, when Iberian explorers sought to colonize territories in what are now Florida, New Mexico, Texas, and California, has become ubiquitous in the last few decades. The nation's unofficial second language, it is highly visible on several 24-hour TV networks and on more than 200 radio stations across the country. But Spanish north of the Rio Grande has not spread in its pure Iberian form. On the contrary, a signature of the brewing "Latin Fever" that has swept the United States since the mid-1980s is the astonishing creative linguistic amalgam of tongues used by people of Hispanic descent, not only in major cities but in rural areas as well -- neither Spanish nor English, but a hybrid, known only as Spanglish.
A Photographic Essay
Who was César Chávez? Here, an essay and photographs restore this man to his place in American history. The real César Chávez got lost in the hoopla. Many think he was a Mexican boxer. Young people think he’s that guy on the stamp or that statue in the park. No wonder it’s difficult, especially for our young people, to understand his human complexities and the struggles to which he gave his life. Esteemed Latin American scholar and writer Ilan Stavans, supported by more than forty photographs from archival collections at the Cesar E. Chavez Foundation, restores this man’s humanity so that readers can understand his struggles as a labor organizer and civil rights activist for farm workers. Cesar Chavez: A Photographic Essay, a 2011 Skipping Stones honor award book, discusses Chavez' growing up years and his family; his comadre Dolores Huerta, who stood with him from the beginning; his relationship with Dr. King and other activists in the broader struggles for civil rights for all people of color; and his insistence on being an activist for the rights of farm workers when so much media attention was given to the civil rights activists in the cities. Ilan Stavans is a nationally respected Jewish Latino writer and scholar. His story Morirse está en hebreo” was made into the award-winning movie My Mexican Shivah, produced by John Sayles. His books include An Organizer’s Tale (Penguin Classics, 2008), Dictionary Days (Graywolf Press), The Disappearance (TriQuarterly), and Resurrecting Hebrew (Random House). Stavans has received numerous awards, among them a Guggenheim Fellowship, the National Jewish Book Award, the Latino Book Award, and Chile’s Presidential Medal. He is a professor in Latin American culture at Amherst College.
Art and Anger
Essays on Politics and the Imagination
Fascinated by the idea of Western civilization as being a sequence of numerous misinterpretations and misrepresentations, these 19 essays cover a broad range of topics with the unifying theme being the crossroads where politics and the imagination meet. An essay on linguistics and culture discusses the shaping of Latin America’s collective identity; Peru’s modern history is approached as a bloody battle between enlightenment and darkness; and in critiques of Octavio Paz and Gabriel García Márquez, Ilan Stavans reflects on the dichotomy between pen and sword in the Hispanic world. In Letter to a German Friend, Stavans returns to his fate as a Jew in the Southern Hemisphere, and in The First Book, he connects his passion for literature to his initiation into Jewishness. Finally, in a meditation on Columbus’s afterlife, he reflects on the many ways in which we reinvent ourselves in order to make sense of the chaotic world that surrounds us.
What Is la Hispanidad?
Natives of the Iberian Peninsula and the twenty countries of Latin America, as well as their kinsfolk who've immigrated to the United States and around the world, share a common quality or identity characterized as la hispanidad. Or do they?In this lively, provocative book, two distinguished intellectuals, a cultural critic and a historian, engage in a series of probing conversations in which they try to discern the nature of la hispanidad and debate whether any such shared identity binds the world's nearly half billion people who are "Hispanic." Their conversations range from La Reconquista and Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, who united the Spanish nation while expelling its remaining Moors and Jews, to the fervor for el fútbol (soccer) that has swept much of Latin America today. Along the way, they discuss a series of intriguing topics, including the complicated relationship between Latin America and the United States, Spanish language and the uses of Spanglish, complexities of race and ethnicity, nineteenth-century struggles for nationhood and twentieth-century identity politics, and popular culture from literary novels to telenovelas. Woven throughout are the authors' own enlightening experiences of crossing borders and cultures in Mexico and Chile and the United States.Sure to provoke animated conversations among its readers, What is la hispanidad? makes a convincing case that "our hispanidad is rooted in a changing tradition, flexible enough to persist beyond boundaries and circumstances. Let us not fix it with a definition, but allow it instead to travel, always."