On Sept. 15, 1821, five Central American countries declared their independence from Spain. (It also marks the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, with several Latin American countries celebrating their Independence Days in the next 30 days.) Here’s a look at the writers and books from these nations:
• Costa Rica: Poet and novelist Joaquín Gutiérrez wrote several books, including Cronicas De Otro Mundo; the children’s book Cocori, which has been translated into several languages and produced as a play; and Chinto Pinto, a book of Costan Rican proverbs and songs for children.
• El Salvador: Poet Roque Dalton (1935-1975) now is considered a revered figure in his native country for his works, collected in the book Small Hours of the Night. But his left wing politics sent him in exile from his country and led to his death. Héctor Tobar of The Los Angeles Times had a fascinating story about his execution.
• Guatemala: Miguel Angel Asturias (1899-1974), right, won the Nobel Prize in Literature for his novels — The President (El Senor Presidente) and Men of Maize: The Modernist Epic of the Guatemalan Indians (Hombres de Maize) — that depicted life in his country. Contemporary novelists Francisco Goldman, Héctor Tobar and Sabrina Vourvoulias have Guatemalan roots.
• Honduras: Novelist Froilán Turcios (1875-1943) is best known for his collection of short stories Cuentos del Amor y la Muerte (Stories of Love and Death). Roberto Sosa (1930-2011) won awards for his poetry. The non-fiction book Enrique’s Journey, based on Pulitzer Prize-winning series by Sonia Nazario, follows a young Honduran boy as he travels to the United States to find his mother.
• Nicaragua: Poet Rubén Darío (1867-1916), right, is considered one of the finest wordsmiths in the Spanish language, with poems that experimented with the language. They can be found in the book Selected Writings. Novelist Silvio Sirias, who was raised in California, drew upon his cultural heritage for such books as Meet Me Under the Ceiba and Bernardo and the Virgin.
Sources: Answers.com, Wikipedia, Encyclopedia Britannica, Poets.org, Los Angeles Times, Vidagranada.com