Tag Archives: Nilo Cruz

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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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:

Fiction:

• 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.

Drama:

• 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.

Poetry:

• 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.

Journalism:

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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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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