Tag Archives: Quiara Alegia Hudes

Happy Independence Day, United States of America!

On July 4, 1776, the United States of America declared themselves free from Great Britain. Thanks to its diverse population, the United States is one of the world’s great superpowers. And, by 2050, some scholars project it will boast the largest Spanish-speaking population in the world. Here’s a look, by region, at some of America’s great Latino writers.

LuisValdezCalifornia: Luiz Valdez, right, the father of Latino theater and playwright of “Zoot Suit,” began presenting plays during the Delano farmworkers strike. The plight of farmworkers in California have been the subject of books by Helena María Viramontes and Pam Muñoz Ryan. Other Californians include Gustavo Arellano, Margarita Engle, Alex Espinoza, Reyna Grande, Gilbert Hernandez, Lorraine López, Luis J. Rodriguez, Michele Serros, Gary Soto, Héctor Tobar and Victor Villaseñor.

Rudulfo AnayaNew Mexico: Native son Rudolfo Anaya, left, considered the father of Chicano literature, has set his novels, including his beloved Bless Me Ultima and Sonny Baca mysteries, in this state. The state also served as the setting for novels by Ana Castillo, Denise Chávez and Alisa Valdes.

esmeralda_santiago_163x179_1Puerto Rico: The Caribbean island joined the United States in 1898. Esmeralda Santiago, right, wrote about her personal history in When I Was Puerto Rican and the island’s history in the novel Conquistadora. Other authors of Puerto Rican heritage include Lyn DiIorio, Sarah McCoy, Piri Thomas, Justin Torres and Willliam Carlos Williams.

Rolando HinojosaTexas: Life on the border has served as fodder for books by Rolando Hinojosa,  left, of the Rio Grande Valley, and Sergio Troncoso of El Paso. Sandra Cisneros, originally from Chicago, set her books Woman Hollering Creek and Have You Seen Marie? in this state. Other Tejanos include Dagoberto Gilb, Manuel Gonzales, Diana López and Gwendolyn Zepeda.

JunotDiazThe country’s most prestigious literary award, the Pulitzer Prize, has been given to Cuban-American Oscar Hijuelos and Dominican-American Junot Díaz, right, in the fiction category; Cuban-American Nilo Cruz and Quiara Alegría Hudes, who is of Puerto Rican descent, in drama; and numerous journalists. Eduardo Lalo won the 2013 International Rómulo Gallegos Prize for Fiction, becoming the first American to win one of Latin America’s most prestigious literary awards. The Pura Belpré Award, given by the American Library Association, honors books written for young readers.

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The Hispanic Reader is one year old today!

It’s The Hispanic Reader’s one-year anniversary! Since my first post, I’ve talked to eight authors, marked 18 writers’ birthdays, reviewed 37 books and written 117 posts. To celebrate, I’m giving you a couple of presents.

First, I created a Features Index that includes links to those author interviews and profiles; lists of books for special occasions (from Christmas to quinceañeras); and features about Latino literature, such as a look at writers who have won the Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes. (I already have an index of book reviews.)

Second, I’ve created a trivia quiz about Latino literature from my posts and book reviews in the past year. (You can find more information about the answers below the quiz.) Good luck and have fun!

1. The answer is D. In the 2001 movie, the flighty Sara (Kate Beckinsale) writes her name and phone number in a copy of Gabriel García Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera and tells Jonathan (John Cusack), who she just met, that if their love is meant to be, he will find that copy in a bookstore. Appropriate book since Cholera is about a man who waits 50 years for the woman he loves.

2. The answer is A. Although he is considered one of the top storytellers in Latino literature, Borges never won the Nobel. Only 12 Latinos have, including Paz, Saramago and Vargas Llosa. But Borges did get a Google doodle on his birthday.

3. The answer is B. Luis Valdez began directing plays on a flatbed truck and union halls during the Delano Grape Strike of the 1960s. His theater company is aptly named El Teatro Campesino. Considered the father of Latino theater, he wrote the play Zoot Suit and the directed the movie version and La Bamba.

4. The answer is C. In Il Postino, Pablo Neruda helps an Italian postal carrier woo his love. The 1994 film, based on an Antonio Skarmeta book, earned a Best Picture nomination. The other answers were books – by Laura Esquivel, Isabel Allende and Carlos Fuentes – that also were made into movies.

5. The answer is B. Loving Pedro Infante by Denise Chávez takes place in the tiny fictional town of Cabritoville, near El Paso.

6. The answer is B. Malín Alegría dons the elaborate dress in honor of her book Estrelle’s Quinceañera, one of many books about the popular Hispanic tradition. Veronica Chambers wrote the Magdalena and Marisol books; Diana López penned Choke; and Lorraine López authored The Realm of Hungry Spirits.

7. The answer is D. Kiss of the Spider Woman by Manuel Puig is considered one of the most famous works in Latino literature of the last 50 years.

8. The answer is A. Hanks read Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude in the classic comedy caper.

9. The answer is D. Quiara Alegría Hudes won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Drama in 2012 for her play, Water by the Spoonful. Hudes, who also wrote 26 Miles and co-wrote the Tony-winner In the Heights, is one of the few Latinos to win the American award for literary arts and journalism. Although they have not won the Pulitzer, Julia Alvarez, Sandra Cisneros and Cristina García have written novels that have received strong critical acclaim.

10. The answer is C. Pablo Neruda knew Gabriela Mistral when he was growing up in Temuco, Chile. Fuentes and Paz are from Mexico. Allende is from Chile, but a generation younger than Neruda. Her uncle, President Salvador Allende, was friends with Neruda, a relationship depicted in Roberto Ampuero’s The Neruda Case.


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In the News: A Pulitzer for Hudes and a short story from Díaz

Woo hoo! Quiara Alegría Hudes, right, won the Pultizer Prize in Drama today, becoming only the second Latino to win in that category. She won for her play Water by the Spoonful.

Junot Díaz alert:

• Speaking of the Pulitzers, past winner Junot Díaz has a short story, “Miss Lora,” in the latest issue of The New Yorker.

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Latinos and the Pulitzer Prize

Update: Quiara Alegría Hudes won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Drama for her play, Water by the Spoonful. I also included information on Sonia Nazario, which I forgot about when I first wrote this post until I saw her book in my co-worker’s office and thought, “I can’t believe I forgot Enrique’s Journey!”

The Pulitzer Prizes, which award the best in journalism and literary arts, will be announced on Monday. While the Nobel Prize in Literature is an international award that honors a lifetime achievement of work, the Pulitzers are an American award that recognizes the previous year’s work in a variety of categories. Here’s a look at some of the past Latino winners:


• Only two Hispanics have won this prize: Oscar Hijuelos for 1990’s The Mambo Kings Sing Songs of Love and Junot Díaz, right, for 2008’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Hopefully, the committee will consider Francisco Goldman’s Say Her Name, Justin Torres’s We the Animals and Hector Tobar’s The Barbarian Nurseries this year.


• Nilo Cruz, left, is the lone Latino playwright to win this honor, for 2003’s Anna in the Tropics. Some writers have come close in recent years – Quiara Alegría Hudes was a finalist for 2007’s Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue in 2007 and, with Lin-Manuel Miranda, 2009’s In the Heights, as was Kristoffer Diaz for 2010’s The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity.


• William Carlos Williams, right, whose mother was Puerto Rican, appears to be the lone poet with Latino roots to win in the category.

Sadly, no Latinos appear to have won in the autobiography, general non-fiction or history categories. Luis Alberto Urrea came close in 2005, when he was a finalist for general non-fiction category for The Devil’s Highway.


Latinos have won in various categories throughout the years – as part of teams covering the Los Angeles riots for The Los Angeles Times in 1992 and the Elian Gonzalez case for The Miami Herald in 2001. Here’s a look at some interesting winners of the past:

Ruben Vives, left, who came to the United States from Guatemala as an undocumented immigrant and worked his way to become a reporter for The Los Angeles Times, won the award last year for Public Service at age 32.

Liz Balmaseda of The Miami Herald was the first (and still only) Latino to win in the Commentary category in 1993.

SoniaNazarioSonia Nazario, who was raised in the United States and Argentina, wrote a series of articles for The Los Angeles Times about one boy’s travels from Honduras to the United States that won the 2003 Feature Writing prize and became the book Enrique’s Journey.

• Photographer José Galvez, right, was part of the first team of Latinos to win a Pulitzer when  The Los Angeles Times took the 1984 Public Service Prize for its series on Latino life in Southern California. His work can also be seen in Urrea’s book of poems Vatos and other books.

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At the theater: “Electricidad” and “In the Heights”

“At the Theater” is a feature in which I check out plays by Latino writers. The article is intended to be a look at the author’s work and not a review of the theatrical production – so no comments about acting, lighting or staging. I saw the Fort Worth-based Artes de la Rosa’s production of the play Electricidad and a national tour production of In the Heights.

Life in the barrio has been a constant theme in Latino literature – and it’s the setting of two powerful, and very different, plays that have received nationwide attention and are now showing in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

In Luis Alfaro’s Electricidad, the barrio is at its rawest, filled with gangsters and cholos who can’t escape their ‘hood. Electricidad is a young woman who sits outside her home, protecting the body of her murdered father. Based on the Sophocles’ Greek tragedy Electra, a trio of neighborhood women serve as the Greek chorus while Electricidad deals with her mother, sister and others. Depending on your point of view, the play shows barrio life at its most realistic or it perpetuates the worst stereotypes of Latinos.

By contrast, In the Heights is so joyful, one could think it takes place on another planet. The play actually takes place near a bodega in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. The story by Quiara Alegría Hudes (she also wrote 26 Miles) depicts the lives of its residents, who break into upbeat songs written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. At the end of the show, you wished you lived in this neighborhood where everyone is your friend and every problem has a solution. The show deservedly won the 2008 Tony Award for Best Musical and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in Drama.

About the plays: If you live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, you can see excellent productions of these plays until March 25. Electricidad is produced by the Artes de la Rosa Cultural Center for the Arts at the Rose Marine Theater in Fort Worth. For tickets, click here. In the Heights, which is on a national tour until June, is playing at the Winspear Opera House, part of the AT&T Performing Arts Center, in Dallas. For tickets, click here.

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At the theater: Quiara Alegria Hudes’s “26 Miles”

DeAnna Gonzales and Georgia Marshelle Phillips played Beatriz and Olivia in the 26 Miles production by Artes de la Rosa of Fort Worth. They were fantastic. (Photo courtesy Adam Adolfo.)

“At the Theater” is a new feature in which I will check out plays by Latino authors. The article is intended to be a look at the author’s work and not a review of the theatrical production – so no comments about acting, lighting or staging. I saw the Fort Worth-based Artes de la Rosa’s production of the play.

Quiara Alegria Hudes knows how to make a heart laugh – and then break it to pieces.

Audiences who see 26 Miles will experience those emotions when they see her play, which was first performed in 2008 and has been produced all around the country. In fact, two Dallas-Fort Worth theater companies put on the play within weeks of each other this month.

26 Miles tells the story of Beatriz, a temperamental Cuban secretary living in Philadelphia, and her troubled daughter, Olivia, 15, who has lived with her white father in suburbia since she was six years old. On the spur of the moment, Beatriz kidnaps Olivia and they take a road trip together.

Along the way, Beatriz teaches her daughter five words in Spanish a day. Olivia reveals her dreams and fears – mostly to the audience, sometimes to her mother – in her writings. They both must deal with the men they left behind – Beatriz’s husband, Manual; Olivia’s father, Aaron – through awkward phone calls and messages.

The road trip is a bit of a cliché. It’s been used in countless plays, movies and books as a metaphor for life. And the characters are stereotypes – Beatriz is the emotional Latina; Olivia is the typical moody teenager. But Hudes brings up touchy subjects – bullying, cultural identity and marital woes – in a natural, not contrived, manner and the dialogue sounds like everyday conversation. The well-paced play brings plenty of laughs, which makes the climax so much more dramatic.

There’s a reason why 26 Miles has been produced so frequently – it packs a great deal of emotion and life in 90 minutes.

More about Quiara Alegría Hudes:

Hudes, who is half-Puerto Rican, is also the playwright of the 2008 Tony-award winning musical In the Heights. She has also been a finalist for the Pultizer Prize Award twice, for Heights and Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue.

26 Miles: If you live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, you still have Friday-Sunday to check the play Artes de la Rosa’s production at the Rose Marine Theater in Fort Worth. Tickets cost $12 for students and seniors and $18 for adults, plus service charges.

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A Different Point of “View”

Actor Eddie Zertuche, who plays Eddie Carbone, reads the script. Photo courtesy Adam Adolfo.

Arthur Miller has been Hispanicized.

Artes de la Rosa, a performing arts organization in Fort Worth, Texas that promotes Latino culture, has reworked Miller’s A View from the Bridge by making the characters Puerto Rican and Dominican. They were Italian in the original 1955 play.

Artes de la Rosa has previously produced works from playwrights Federico Garcia Lorca, Nilo Cruz and Luis Alfaro. In December, it will present 26 Miles by Quiara Alegría Hudes, the Tony Award-winning playwright of 2008’s In the Heights.

A View from the Bridge is part of its five-year American Classics Initiative, artistic director Adam Adolfo said. The theater has already produced Cat On a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams and will tackle Eugene O’Neill later.

“The goal is to not only show the universality of the work but to explore their stories, when given Latin themes with which to experiment,” Adolfo said. “Additionally, it will provide Latino actors the opportunity to see themselves in iconic roles most usually cast with non-ethnic actors.”

Adolfo changed little in the play’s dialogue, which centers on Eddie Carbone, who helped raise – and has an intense attraction to – his niece, Catherine. But Catherine has fallen in love with a man who has arrived from the Dominican Republic illegally.

“This story explores the trials of immigration in a corrupt society and how a family becomes tangled in a web of misplaced honor and possessive desire,” Adolfo said. “These themes are central to the Hispanic culture and lend themselves to Miller’s vision.”

Adolfo hopes more Hispanics will get interested in going to the theater.

“Education and opportunity are the big driving forces behind getting more Hispanics in the audience,” he said. “There is an idea that theater is for the rich, elite, educated, or well-to-do. The truth is the theater in Elizabethan England was for the common man. In the fifth century, Grecians of every class participated and enjoyed the theatre. Theater is for everyone and we are making great strides at Arts de la Rosa at the Rose Marine Theater to make that distinction clear. Part of getting Latinos into the audience is pure programming. You have to let them see themselves on stage.”

For more information: If you’re in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, you can still catch A View From the Bridge until Sept. 11. The plan will run Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at the Rose Marine Theater, 1440 North Main Street, in Fort Worth. Tickets cost $12-18 and can be purchased here.

The website Theater Jones also has a terrific article about the play.

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