Essential Boricua Reading for the Holiday Season

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The Center for Puerto Ricans Studies (Centro) is the premier think tank on Puerto Ricans in the United States. Centro carries cutting-edge academic research, publishes CENTRO Journal—the leading academic journal on the Puerto Rican experiences in the United States—and Centro Publications—an up-and-coming academic press—,  and houses the largest book library and archival collections on the histories of our people and organizations in the U.S. In addition each year Centro sponsors an aggressive conference series. And, as you are all aware, we’ve recently launched a new version (Centro Voices) of our old eMagazine (Voices). Through this eMagazine we are engaging the wider Puerto Rican communities.

But ultimately, as an academic center at a major public university Centro’s main mission is not about providing a forum for opinions but about solid academic research and its dissemination. That’s why with the holidays coming, and the leisure time that’s coming, as well as the gift giving that we engage in, we have prepared a list on books published in 2014 dealing with Puerto Ricans in the U.S., as well as in Puerto Rico. Such a list cannot be comprehensive, we will always miss some—and hope that you both forgive and tell us so that they are included in another list later on.

We’ve also included on the list the winner, 2 honorable mention awardees, plus all nominated books, for the Frank Bonilla Book Award of the Puerto Rican Studies Association (PRSA)—the main professional association of the field. The awards were given at the 2014 Biennial Meeting of the Puerto Rican Studies Association (PRSA), held this past October in Denver. Because the award was for books published between 2012 and April 2014 the overwhelming majority of the nominated books have a publication date prior to 2014. Their recognition this year merits inclusion here.

All the books are available from local libraries, major internet vendors, or you can ask your local brick-and-mortar bookstore to order it. Wherever possible each title has an active link to the publisher’s page on the book. There is also a short description of the book, as it appears on the publisher’s webpage.

We’ve grouped the books into 5 major categories (and some subcategories): Puerto Ricans in the United States; Puerto Rico—History, Politics, Culture, Current Conditions; Julia de Burgos; Literature; and the books nominated for the 2014 PRSA Frank Bonilla Book Award.

In putting together the book list I reached to collegues and friends who helped me fill gaps in some areas. I would like to thank Marithelma Costa (Hunter College), Arnaldo Cruz-Malavé (Fordham University) and Grisel Maduro (William Paterson University) for their suggestions for the Literarture section. PRSA in-coming and current presidents, Arlene Torres (Hunter College) and Charles Venator-Santiago (University of Connecticut) graciously helped with the PRSA book award nominees.

We hope that these suggestions whet your appetite for some good reading!

Happy holidays!


Demographic and socioeconomic conditions:

Meléndez, Edwin and Carlos Vargas-Ramos, eds. 2014. Puerto Ricans at the Dawn of the New Millennium. New York: Center for Puerto Rican Studies.

Puerto Rican at the Dawn of the New Millennnium explores the changing demographic and socio-economic profile of Puerto Ricans in the United States. This is the must up-to-date analysis of the demographic and socio-economic conditions of Puerto Ricans here.”



On the Puerto Rican civil rights struggle in the U.S.:

Lee, Sonia Song-Ha. 2014. Building A Latino Civil Rights Movement: Puerto Ricans, African Americans, and the Pursuit of Racial Justice in New York City. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

“In the first book-length history of Puerto Rican civil rights in New York City, Sonia Lee traces the rise and fall of an uneasy coalition between Puerto Rican and African American activists from the 1950s through the 1970s.” [Click here to read in Centro Voices a review of the book.]




Opie, Fredrick Douglass. 2014. Upsetting the Apple Cart: Black-Latino Coalitions in New York City from Protest to Public Office. New York: Columbia University Press.

Upsetting the Apple Cart looks at the history of black-Puerto Rican coalitions in New York City from 1959 to 1989. In those years, African American and Latino Progressives organized, mobilized, and transformed neighborhoods, workplaces, university campuses, and representative government in the nation's urban capital.”


On Nuyorican poets:

Alvarez, Stephanie and William Luis, eds. 2014. The AmeRícan Poet: Essays on the Work of Tato Laviera. New York: Center for Puerto Rican Studies.

Known as a Nuyorican poet, Laviera is more appropriately celebrated as an AmeRícan writer of national and international prominence. As a whole, the essays in the book discuss diverse aspects of Laviera’s life and substantial body of work… As the AmeRícan poet, the collection confirms Tato Laviera’s much deserved reputation as a major poet in any language.”


Noel, Urayoán. 2014. In Visible Movement: Nuyorican Poetry from the Sixties to Slam. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press.

“The first book-length study specifically devoted to Nuyorican poetry, In Visible Movement is unique in its historical and formal breadth, ranging from the foundational poets of the 1960s and 1970s to a variety of contemporary poets emerging in and around the Nuyorican Poets Cafe “slam” scene of the 1990s and early 2000s. It also unearths a largely unknown corpus of poetry performances, reading over forty years of Nuyorican poetry at the intersection of the printed and performed word, underscoring the poetry’s links to vernacular and Afro-Puerto Rican performance cultures, from the island’s oral poets to the New York sounds and rhythms of Latin boogaloo, salsa, and hip-hop.”


History, culture and representation:

Fojas, Camilla. 2014. Islands of Empire: Pop Culture & U.S. Power. Austin: University of Texas Press.

“Camilla Fojas explores a broad range of popular culture media—film, television, journalism, advertisements, travel writing, and literature—with an eye toward how the United States as an empire imagined its own military and economic projects. Impressive in its scope, Islands of Empire looks to Cuba, Guam, Hawai‘i, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines, asking how popular narratives about these island outposts expressed the attitudes of the continent throughout the twentieth century. Through deep textual readings… Fojas demonstrates how popular texts are inseparable from U.S. imperialist ideology.”



Hutchinson, Sydney, ed. 2014. Salsa World: A Global Dance in Local Contexts. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
“Since its emergence in the 1960s, salsa has transformed from a symbol of Nuyorican pride into an emblem of pan-Latinism and finally a form of global popular culture… Salsa World examines the ways in which bodies relate to culture in specific places. The contributors, a notable group of scholars and practitioners, analyze dance practices in the U.S., Japan, Spain, France, Colombia, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic.”



Poblete, Joanna. 2014. Islanders in the Empire: Filipino and Puerto Rican Laborers in Hawai’i. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Islanders in the Empire: Filipino and Puerto Rican Laborers in Hawai'i takes an in-depth look at how the two groups fared in a third new colony, Hawai'i… As Poblete shows, the workers' advantages came with significant drawbacks. Unlike foreign nationals, Filipinos and Puerto Ricans lacked access to consular and other officials with the power to intercede on labor and other issues… A rare tandem study of two groups on foreign soil, Islanders in the Empire offers new views on American imperialism and labor issues of the era.”


Acosta Cruz, María. 2014. Dream Nation: Puerto Rican Culture and the Fictions of Independence. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

“In the provocative new book Dream Nation, María Acosta Cruz investigates the roots and effects of this profound disconnect between cultural fantasy and political reality… Bringing together texts from Puerto Rican literature, history, and popular culture, Dream Nation shows how imaginings of national independence have served many competing purposes. They have given authority to the island’s literary and artistic establishment but have also been a badge of countercultural cool… They have fostered local communities on the island, and still helped define Puerto Rican identity within U.S. Latino culture.” 



Avilés-Santiago, Manuel. 2014. Puerto Rican Soldiers and Second-Class Citizenship: Representations in the Media. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

“Puerto Rican soldiers have been consistently whitewashed out of the grander narrative of American history, despite playing parts in all American wars since World War I. This book examines the online self-representation of Puerto Rican soldiers who served during the War on Terror.”



Carrasquillo, Rosa Elena. 2014. The People’s Poet: Life and Myth of Ismael Rivera, an Afro Caribbean Icon. Pompano Beach, FL: Caribbean Studies Press.

The People’s Poet tells the fascinating story of Ismael Rivera’s life and the development of his iconic image among the African diaspora. He revolutionized tropical music with his unique singing style and improvisational skills. Today… he is lionized in various Afro-Caribbean communities as a bastion of cultural nationalism and Pan-Africanism. Rivera’s life story resounds with the imperative issues in Puerto Rican history from the 1930s to the 1980s. This well-researched book uncovers new information about Rivera and includes many archival illustrations.”



Cruz Santos, Martín, 2014. Afirmando la nación…: políticas culturales en Puerto Rico (1948–1968). San Juan: Ediciones Callejón.

“En la década del 50, aunque Puerto Rico no alteró su condición colonial con Estados Unidos, sí se abrieron nuevas oportunidades internas para que el país legislara y creara nuevas instituciones. Convocados desde el Estado, numerosos intelectuales públicos se dieron a la tarea de legislar políticas culturales que le dieran soporte al estado muñocista… Esta excelente investigación nos cuenta una parte importante de esa historia.”


Levy, Teresita A. 2014. Puerto Rico in the Empire: Tobacco Growers and U.S. Colonialism. New Brusnwick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

“Most studies of Puerto Rico’s relations with the United States have focused on the sugar industry, recounting a tale of victimization and imperial abuse driven by the interests of U.S. sugar companies. But in Puerto Ricans in the Empire, Teresita A. Levy looks at a different agricultural sector, tobacco growing, and tells a story in which Puerto Ricans challenged U.S. officials and fought successfully for legislation that benefited the island.”



Llorens, Hilda. 2014. Imagining the Great Puerto Rican Family: Framing Nation, Race, and Gender during the American Century. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

“In this book, Hilda Lloréns offers a ground-breaking study of images—photographs, postcards, paintings, posters, and films—about Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans made by American and Puerto Rican image-makers between 1890 and 1990. Through illuminating discussions of artists, images, and social events, the book offers a critical analysis of the power-laden cultural and historic junctures imbricated in the creation of re-presentations of Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans by Americans (“outsiders”) and Puerto Ricans (“insiders”) during an historical epoch marked by the twin concepts of “modernization” and “progress.”” 



Marín Román, Héctor R. 2014. ¡A la vuelta de la esquina! El Caribe camino a la Segunda Guerra Mundial, 1938 a 1941. San Juan: Publicaciones Gaviota.

“Este tercer volumen de la historia de los puertorriqueños en las fuerzas armadas explora el periodo de preparación para la entrada en la Segunda Guerra Mundial. El libro resalta el papel protagónico de Puerto Rico y de las unidades puertorriqueñas dentro de la defensa del Caribe.”




Martínez-San Miguel, Yolanda. 2014. Coloniality of Diasporas: Rethinking Intra-Colonial Migrations in a Pan-Caribbean Context. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Coloniality of Diasporas reinterprets migrations within former or current colonial circuits as central to the articulation of Anglo, French and Spanish Caribbean narratives from the seventeenth century to the present. Focusing on piracy in the seventeenth century, filibustering in the nineteenth century, intracolonial migrations in the 1930s, metropolitan racializations in the 1950s and 1960s, and feminist redefinitions of creolization and sexile from the 1940s to the 1990s, this book redefines the Caribbean beyond the postcolonial debate.”


Mulligan, Jessica M. 2014. Unmanageable Care: An Ethnography of Health Care Privatization in Puerto Rico. New York: New York University Press.

“In Unmanageable Care, anthropologist Jessica M. Mulligan goes to work at an HMO and records what it’s really like to manage care. Set at a health insurance company dubbed Acme, this book chronicles how the privatization of the health care system in Puerto Rico transformed the experience of accessing and providing care on the island. Through interviews and participant observation, the book explores the everyday contexts in which market reforms were enacted.”


Nazario Velasco, Rubén. 2014. El paisaje y el poder: la tierra en el tiempo de Luis Muñoz Marín. San Juan: Ediciones Callejón.

“Una inquietud por la ruina de agricultura, que ilustran los paisajes baldíos de Puerto Rico, llevan al autor a explorar la reforma agraria del Partido Popular Democrático y el pensamiento de Luis Muñoz Marín en torno a la tierra, el jíbaro y la caña.”




Pantojas García, Emilio. 2014. Crónicas del colapso: economía, política y sociedad de Puerto Rico en el siglo veintiuno. San Juan: Ediciones Callejón.

"Este libro aspira a ser una contribución de lo que el sociólogo norteamericano Michael Burawoy denomina sociología pública. Se trata de reflexionar, enseñar y aprender más allá del ámbito de las universidades. Mirados en retrospectiva, los ensayos del libro constituyen una crónica del colapso del proyecto de modernidad desarrollista iniciado en 1952 con el Estado Libre Asociado. Es una crónica de los primeros 13 años del siglo veintiuno que describen el deterioro y pronosticaron la crisis en la que nos encontramos.



Vélez Rodríguez, Evelyn. 2014. Puerto Rico: política exterior sin estado soberano, 1946–1964. San Juan: Ediciones Callejón.

Este libro analiza uno de los aspectos más interesantes y poco conocidos de la historia política de Puerto Rico en el siglo XX: la aparente paradoja de un territorio colonial capaz de implantar una política exterior, a veces a contrapelo de la política metropolitana”.



Burgos, Julia de. 2014. Cartas a Consuelo. Julia de Burgos. Editado por Eugenio Ballou. Estudio introductorio de Lena Burgos-Lafuente. San Juan, PR: Folium – Prosas Profanas.

“Colección de las cartas que de 1939 a 1953 la gran poeta, Julia de Burgos, escribió a su hermana, hasta exactamente una semana antes de su muerte el 28 de junio de 1953”.





Burgos, Julia de. 2014. Y fui toda en mí. Antología poética en el centenario del natalicio de Julia de Burgos. Dirección editorial de Diana Bernard González. Prólogo de Rubén Ríos Ávila. Ilustrraciones por Elizam Escobar y Lorraine Rodríguez Pagán. Cataño, PR: Ediciones SM.

“Esta publicación reúne cien poemas representativos de las múltiples voces de Julia. La documentación histórica de la época y las fotografías sobre su vida personal y académica sirven de preámbulo al placer que significará la lectura de su poesía”.




Burgos, Julia de. 2014. Diario. Edición de Edgar Martínez Masdeu. Epílogo de Belén Román Morales. San Juan, PR: Los Libros de la Iguana.

“Como parte del centenario del nacimiento de Julia de Burgos, Los Libros de la Iguana pone ante el público lector el diario que la poeta escribiera durante su estadía en el hospital neoyorkino Mount Sinai, actualizado y constatado por Edgar Martínez Masdeu y Belén Román Morales”.




Pérez Rosario, Vanessa. 2014. Becoming Julia de Burgos The Making of a Puerto Rican Icon. Champaign: University of Illinois Press.

“Vanessa Pérez-Rosario examines poet and political activist Julia de Burgos's development as a writer, her experience of migration, and her legacy in New York City, the poet's home after 1940. Pérez Rosario situates Julia de Burgos as part of a transitional generation that helps bridge the historical divide between Puerto Rican nationalist writers of the 1930s and the Nuyorican writers of the 1970s. Becoming Julia de Burgos departs from the prevailing emphasis on the poet and intellectual as a nationalist writer to focus on her contributions to New York Latino/a literary and visual culture.” 


Santos Febres, Mayra. 2014. “Yo misma fui mi ruta”: La maravillosa vida de Julia de Burgos. Carolina, PR: Municipio Autónomo de Carolina.

“…comisionado por el Municipio de Carolina con motivo de la fiesta de letras que ha propiciado la celebración del centenario del natalicio de la poeta carolinense… La conocida escritora Mayra Santos Febres nos presenta una biografía novelada de la poeta”.






Díaz Valcárcel, Emilio. 2014. El tiempo airado. San Juan: Isla Negra Editores.

“…los grandes temas humanos son magistralmente tratados en este bildungsroman, pero desde la perspectiva del narrador que adolece, y se privilegia, de su particular forma de mirar el mundo, contradictorio e inquisidor, de los adultos.”


Friedman, Robert. 2014. The Sorrounding Sea. Moorpark, CA: Floricanto Press.

“This page-turner grabs the reader at the start and keeps the tension high throughout. Stevie’s story plays out on the lush University of Puerto Rico (UPR) campus, the sun-baked streets of San Juan’s gritty barrios, the pastoral highlands of central Puerto Rico and the paradise lost of Vieques island. Like all things Caribbean, it also washes up along the streets of New York, careening from the Bronx to the hinterlands of south Jersey, and bouncing along the urban sprawl in between.”


Nieves, Myrna. 2014. Otra versión de Hansel y Gretel. New York: Taller Asiray and Then Press.

“Desde la ciudad de Nueva York, la escritora puertorriqueña Myrna Nieves se ha apropiado de uno de los cuentos más populares de todos los tiempos, dotándolo de elementos caribeños.  Otra versión de Hansel y Gretel es una historia fascinante, marcada por la tensión entre la tradición y la innovación, que nos regala un desenlace inesperado. Es un honor haber colaborado con la autora en el diseño y la encuadernación de este libro”.




Rodríguez Julia, Edgardo. 2014. Las brujas. Grabados de Consuelo Gotay. Cataño, PR: Editorial S/M.

Las Brujas… nos ofrece tenso diálogo entre un relato breve y siniestro de Edgardo Rodríguez Juliá dedicado a un lectorado juvenil, y los intrincados grabados de Gotay. Hay un elemento en común entre los escritores que atraen a Gotay: la riqueza en la descripción, la intensidad metafórica, la belleza de un lenguaje que nos tienta a mirar a la vez que a leer. La descripción es clave aquí, pues en ella la palabra se borra a sí misma al invitar al lector a abrir los ojos de la imaginación para andar el camino venturoso desde la idea convocada por la palabra, y la respuesta de ese ojo mental que a todo quiere ponerle forma y color.”


Sánchez González, Lisa. 2014. Puerto Rican Folktales/Cuentos folclóricos puertorriqueños. Translations by Bayrex. Illustrations by Teófilo Olivieri. New York: 2ndLeaf Press.

Puerto Rican Folktales is the first offering in nearly 50 years of traditional oral Puerto Rican folktales and legends presented in book form. Rendered as wonderful short stories for both children and adults alike, author Sánchez González researched these colonial stories and has provided updated versions from a contemporary perspective with the beauty, humor, and urgent honesty they deserve.”


Tirado-Chiodini, Yasmín. 2014. Antonio's Will: A Story  of Sacrifice, Love, Tragedy, and Injustice. Oviedo, FL: Black Hammock Books.

"Within a historical and cultural framework spanning three countries and over one hundred years, Antonio's Will tells the story of the rise of a Puerto Rico tobacco planter and the fall of his son Antonio Pontón, the first Hispanic executed on the electric chair in the United States." [Click here to read in Centro Voices a chapter of Antonio's Will.]


Bird, Nancy. 2014. Put Together: A Minnie Memoir. Neew York: Editorial Trance.

“Nancy Bird writes about culture and identity despite geographical distance, as as she moves from Puerto Rico to Minnesota.” [Click here for a review of the book in Centro Voices]






Álvarez Pardo, Fernando. 2014. Texting. San Juan: Isla Negra Editores.

“En estos poemas breves, listos para el viaje conciso de los medios digitales, Fernando Álvarez Pardo vigila el devenir de esa otra persona que nos habita—nuestra cara en el espejo, un compañero que se ausenta, alguien que ha muerto de repente—en medio de las raudas transacciones de la vida diaria. Encontramos aquí una estética de la prisa, un estilo texteado que se niega a pensar que la velocidad excluye la profundidad.”


Perdomo, Willie. 2014. The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon. New York: Penguin Books.

“Through dream song and elegy, alternate takes and tempos, prizewinning poet Willie Perdomo’s third collection crackles with vitality and dynamism as it imagines the life of a percussionist, rebuilding the landscape of his apprenticeship, love, diaspora, and death.”




Sotomayor, Áurea María. 2014. Artes poéticas. N.p.: Editorial La secta de los perros.

“Esta es la última entrega poética de la aclamada poeta y académica Áurea María Sotomayor.”




Torres, Daniel. 2014. En (el) imperio de (los) sentidos. San Juan: Isla Negra Editores.

En (El) Imperio De (Los) Sentidos, de Daniel Torres constituye una obra redonda y perfecta, para nada incompleta. Un poemario que abarca treinta años de poesía, de vida. Un discurso poético que narra una sucesión de momentos conectados con la realidad, la conciencia del amor, el deseo. Lo que encontramos en este libro son las emociones en sus diferentes versiones, desde la más erótica e impúdica hasta la más nostálgica y espiritual.” 




Torres, Edwin. 2014. Ameriscopia. Tucson: The University of Arizona Press.

Ameriscopia reimagines New York City and its expansive inspirations, which for Torres capture the contradictions of America. Allusions to the Twin Towers, Coney Island hot dogs, and the Nuyorican Poet's Cafe continuously recolor the pages. But even as he makes these iconic references, Torres allows his poems to invert and refract the identities they evoke—New-Yorker-American-Latino-Dad-Performer-Boy-Writer—to invigorate poetry out of its slumber into a deep cultural urgency.”




Vázquez, Lourdes. 2014. The Tango Files. N.p.: Taller Asiray.

“Excéntrica pero no extranjera, o no del todo, porque una verdad crucial que Lourdes Vázquez consigue mostrar aquí es que la geografía del tango excede los límites del estuario platino para confundirse con América, Europa y Africa, en un alarde de fusión de géneros y ritmos e historias que denotan algo así como la quintaesencia del hibridaje."



Vázquez Cruz, Carlos. 2014. Ares. San Juan: Isla Negra Editores.

“En sus poemas, el trabajo de orfebrería con el lenguaje–siempre medido y justo–se combina con el lujo de las imágenes, irónicas, atrevidas. El viaje en ascenso de la pura palabra al diálogo con la plástica y más adelante con la composición musical en las tres secciones del libro, va marcando la pauta de un modo de decir que es al mismo tiempo cauto pero soterradamente desenfadado; contenido pero sensual. “


Vázquez Paz, Johanny. 2014. Sagrada Familia. San Juan: Isla Negra Editores.

Sagrada familia es un poemario que va de Dios a la nada, que en el fondo es quizás lo mismo. Pero el Dios de Sagrada familia no es el terrible padre celestial del Antiguo Testamento, sino un Dios hembra: redentora, protectora, y creadora. Con una métrica cuidada, la autora de Sagrada familia fluctúa entre lo divino y lo teológico, y lo terrenal y humano. Podemos saltar fácilmente de Santo Tomás de Aquino al paganismo, y de la contemplación del distante Dios de los altares, a la compleja relación de la voz narradora con las figuras paternales que son a un tiempo, divinidad y jueces. En Sagrada familia la poesía alcanza un tono de desgarro, confrontación, abandono, destierro y reivindicación. La voz de la poeta es única y plena.”


Best book:

Rodríquez-Silva, Ileana M. 2012. Silencing Race: Disentangling Blackness, Colonialism, and National Identities in Puerto Rico. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

“In their quest for greater political participation within shifting imperial fields—from Spanish (1850s–1898) to US rule (1898-)—Puerto Ricans struggled to shape and contain conversations about race. In so doing, they crafted, negotiated, and imposed on others multiple forms of silences while reproducing the idea of a unified, racially mixed, harmonious nation. Hence, both upper and working classes participated, although with different agendas, in the construction of a wide array of silences that together have prevented serious debate about racialized domination. This book explores the ongoing, constant racialization of Puerto Rican workers to explore the 'class-making' of race.”


Honorable mention:

Dinzey-Flores, Zaire Zenit. 2013. Locked In, Locked Out: Gated Communities in a Puerto Rican City. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

"In its exploration of four communities in Ponce—two private subdivisions and two public housing projects—Locked In, Locked Out offers one of the first ethnographic accounts of gated communities devised by and for the poor. Dinzey-Flores traces the proliferation of gates on the island from Spanish colonial fortresses to the New Deal reform movement of the 1940s and 1950s, demonstrating how urban planning practices have historically contributed to the current trend of community divisions, shrinking public city spaces, and privatizing gardens."



Rua, Mérida. 2012. A Grounded Identidad: Making New Lives in Chicago’s Puerto Rican Neighborhoods. New York: Oxford University Press.

“Rúa traces Puerto Ricans' construction of identity in a narrative that begins in 1945… They arrived from an island colony where they had held U.S. citizenship and where most thought of themselves as "white." But in Chicago, Puerto Ricans were considered "colored" and their citizenship was second class… In her analysis of the following six decades… Rúa explores the ways in which Puerto Ricans have negotiated their identity as Puerto Ricans, Latinos, and U.S. citizens.”


Other books nominated:

Belpré, Pura. 2013. The Stories I Read to the Children: The Life and Writing of Pura Belpré, the Legendary Storyteller, Children's Author, and New York Public Librarian. Selected, edited and biographical introduction by Lisa Sánchez González. New York: Center for Puerto Rican Studies.

The Stories I Read to the Children documents, for the very first time, Pura Belpré’s contributions to North American, Caribbean, and Latin American literary and library history… Pura Belpré (1899-1982) is one of the most important public intellectuals in the history of the Puerto Rican diaspora. A children’s librarian, author, folklorist, translator, storyteller, and puppeteer who began her career during the Harlem Renaissance and the formative decades of The New York Public Library, Belpré is also the earliest known Afro-Caribeña contributor to American literature.”


Fernandez, Lilia. 2012. Brown in the Windy City: Mexicans and Puerto Ricans in Postwar Chicago. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Brown in the Windy City is the first history to examine the migration and settlement of Mexicans and Puerto Ricans in postwar Chicago. Lilia Fernández reveals how the two populations arrived in Chicago in the midst of tremendous social and economic change and, in spite of declining industrial employment and massive urban renewal projects, managed to carve out a geographic and racial place in one of America’s great cities.”




Lopez, Daniel C. 2012. California and Hawaii’s First Puerto Ricans 1850-1926: The 1st and 2nd Generation Immigrants/Migrants. National City: ValMar Graphics and Printing.

" …this historically oriented and genealogically-related book about the Puerto Rican diaspora to the West Coast of the United States, including to Hawaii is… the first comprehensive book… which delved into the history and evolution of the beginnings of Puerto Rican immigration to California, as well as at least initially, to the San Francisco Bay area. The book identifies well over 200 separate names of these Puerto Rican immigrants to both California, and to Hawaii."



Moral, Solsiree Del. 2013. Negotiating Empire: The Cultural Politics of Schools in Puerto Rico, 1898-1952. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

“After the United States invaded Puerto Rico in 1898, the new unincorporated territory sought to define its future. Seeking to shape the next generation and generate popular support for colonial rule, U.S. officials looked to education as a key venue for promoting the benefits of Americanization. At the same time, public schools became a site where Puerto Rican teachers, parents, and students could formulate and advance their own projects for building citizenship. In Negotiating Empire, Solsiree del Moral demonstrates how these colonial intermediaries aimed for regeneration and progress through education.”



Moreno Marisel C. 2012. Family Matters: Puerto Rican Women Authors on the Island and the Mainland. Charlottesvialle: University of Virginia Press.

“Adopting a comparative and multidisciplinary approach to Puerto Rican literature, Marisel Moreno juxtaposes narratives by insular and U.S. Puerto Rican women authors in order to examine their convergences and divergences. By showing how these writers use the trope of family to question the tenets of racial and social harmony, an idealized past, and patriarchal authority that sustain the foundational myth of la gran familia, she argues that this metaphor constitutes an overlooked literary contact zone between narratives from both sides.”



Ortiz Cuadra, Cruz Miguel. 2013. Eating Puerto Rico: A History of Food, Culture, and Identity. Translated by Russ Davidson. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

“…Cruz Miguel Ortíz Cuadra's magisterial history of the foods and eating habits of Puerto Rico unfolds into an examination of Puerto Rican society from the Spanish conquest to the present. Each chapter is centered on an iconic Puerto Rican foodstuff, from rice and cornmeal to beans, roots, herbs, fish, and meat. Ortíz shows how their production and consumption connects with race, ethnicity, gender, social class, and cultural appropriation in Puerto Rico.” [Click here for a review of the book in Centro Voices]



Schmidt, Jorge R. 2014. The Politics of English in Puerto Rico’s Public Schools. Boulder, CO: FirstForumPress.

“How have colonial and partisan politics in Puerto Rico affected the language used in public schools? What can we learn from the conflict over the place of English in Puerto Rican society? How has the role of English evolved over time? Addressing these questions, Jorge Schmidt incisively explores the complex relationships among politics, language, and education in Puerto Rico from 1898, when Spain ceded the island to the United States, to the present.”



Trujillo-Pagán, Nicole E. 2013. Modern Colonization by Medical Intervention: U.S. Medicine in Puerto Rico. Leiden, Germany: Brill.

"Modern Colonization by Medical Intervention adds to our understanding of the political and economic transformations establishing colonial modernity in Puerto Rico. By focusing on influential physicians’ clinical work and their access to a remote and inaccessible rural population, this volume details how rural areas suffered the ravages of social dislocation, unemployment and hunger.”




Valentín, Gilberto Gerena. 2013. Gilberto Gerena Valentín: My Life as a Community Activist, Labor Organizer, and Progressive Politician in New York City. Edited by Carlos Rodríguez Fraticelli. Translated by Andrew Hurley. Introduction by José E. Cruz. New York: Center for Puerto Rican Studies.

“Gilberto Gerena Valentín is a key figure in the development of the Puerto Rican community in the United States… In his memoirs, Gilberto Gerena Valentín takes us into the center of the fierce labor, political, civil rights, social and cultural struggles waged by Puerto Ricans in New York from the 1940s through the 1970s.”

© Center for Puerto Rican Studies. Published in Centro Voices on 17 December 2014.

Centro Voices (ISSN: 2379-3864).
The views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of Centro Voices, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies or Hunter College, CUNY.