Nostalgia makes me wish I were back in the country I once called home. Sometimes I’ll remember the family gatherings in my great uncle’s house—even on Sunday afternoons, my parents, uncles and aunts played cards while having drinks, and then, when the mood struck, they danced until midnight. I’d play soccer or board games—or look for some alternative form of entertainment—with my cousins, so everyone had a good time.
Perhaps nostalgia is not the best word to describe the feeling; sometimes I find myself laughing at the different situations and events that I experienced when I was younger. I presume it all depends on the words or images that evoke specific memories. Perhaps this is why I find literature so nourishing. Books not only help me see things from specific perspectives, but also recall my past.
I enjoy a book more when I’m able to imagine what the author meant thanks to my personal occurrences. This is why I think literature—and in my case Hispanic literature—creates a bond between the reader and the author; the different characters and places are the means that strengthen (and also weaken) this link. Because I grew up in Peru, the books written by Alfredo Bryce Echenique, Mario Vargas Llosa and the more contemporary Jaime Bayly, hit distinct chords in my psyche. Yet I’m also fascinated by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Colombia) and captivated by Julio Cortazar (Argentina) because I find the language they write to be proverbial.
Do you agree that reading Hispanic Literature helps us conserve our identity and heritage? What authors/books make you reflect on who you are as a Hispanic or Latino?
There are many authors that do the same thing for me. My favorites include Julio Cortazar, Jorge Luis Borges, Carlos Fuentes and Jose Marti.