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The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature.

The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature Ilan Stavans, ed. New York. W. W. Norton. 2011. lxxi + 2,489 pages + A1-A177. $59.95. ISBN 978-0-393-08007-0

This long-anticipated volume aptly represents the extraordinary scope of scholarship and aesthetics that one expects both from a Norton anthology and from the Latino literary tradition. More than 450 years of writing by some two hundred writers is organized in five principal sections: Colonization: 1537-1810, Annexations: 1811-1898, Acculturation: 1899-1945, Upheaval: 1946-1979, and Into the Mainstream: 1980-Present. In chronological order--beginning with Hispanic colonial writers (Las Casas, Cabeza de Vaca, El Inca Garcilaso, and eleven others) and ending with the most contemporary writers (such as Junot Diaz and Mariposa)--are the essential works of Latino literature in all genres. (About one-fourth of the material is translated from the original Spanish, although hybrid Spanish-English texts are unaltered.) A sixth section, Popular Dimensions, introduces some folk and popular genres. The general introduction ("The Search for Wholeness"), section and author introductions, endpaper maps showing exploration and immigration patterns, and three appendixes underscore issues of history, identity, and literary history that inform both Latino expression and the creation of the anthology. (The appended material is a chronology of literature and history, 1492-2010; a selection of treaties, acts, and propositions; and translations of "influential essays" by Rodo, Vasconcelos, Paz, and Fernandez Retamar.)

Here we find foundational texts and other works of Chicano, Puerto Rican, Cuban American, and Dominican American literature, along with a few contemporary writers from different backgrounds (Isabel Allende, Ariel Dorfman, Jaime Manrique, Francisco Goldman, Daniel Alarcon, and Felipe Alfau). Other interesting authors and selections are Arthur Schomburg, William Carlos Williams, a scholarly essay by Luis Leal, Cesar Chavez, "De colores," a narcocorrido, a merengue song by Lin-Manuel Miranda from the Broadway musical In the Heights, and several complete texts, including Tomas Rivera's This Migrant Earth (in Rolando Hinojosa's translation), Carlos Morton's The Many Deaths of Danny Rosales, and Nilo Cruz's Anna in the Tropics.

Several well-recognized or otherwise noteworthy topics appear as discrete categories (Frontier Memoirs, Southwestern Newspaper Poetry, the Chacon Family, the Nuyorican Poets, San Antonio Women Poets, Puerto Rican Young Lords, and Writers of Latinidad), an arrangement that leaves one wondering why other issues were not treated similarly. Also somewhat puzzling is the selection of sayings, jokes, comics, folk theater, folk tales, and songs in the Popular Dimensions section. Eleven sayings, three jokes, and one example of popular theater hardly seem representative of those genres, and the "cartoonistas" and Culture Clash might be better appreciated in their appropriate chronological contexts.

These concerns aside, The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature will be the anthology of choice for English-language readers. Bilingual readers would be well advised, though, to consult Nicolas Kanellos's Herencia: The Anthology of Hispanic Literature of the United States and En otra voz: antologia de literatura hispana de los Estados Unidos (see WLT, Oct. 2003, 156) as well. And we can continue to hope that one day we will have a single-volume anthology of this literature in the original languages, whether Spanish, English, or Spanglish.

Catharine E. Wall

Claremont McKenna College
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Author:Wall, Catharine E.
Publication:World Literature Today
Article Type:Book review
Date:Mar 1, 2011
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