The Fluidity of Identity and Boundaries: A Hispanic Heritage Month Reading List book covers

This Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month, PEN America is proud to present a reading list highlighting books from recent longlisters, finalists, winners, and judges of the PEN America Literary Awards. This list was curated by Literary Awards Intern Jasmine Gonzalez, a student at Lehman College who is currently writing her honors thesis on Nuyorican women writers including Julia de Burgos, Sandra Maria Esteves, and Caridad de la Luz. She is also secretary of Lehman’s literary magazine, Obscura.

In her studies of Latinx literature, Jasmine has explored how bringing unique experiences into the spotlight—especially when it comes to identity—is at the core of Latinx literature. In curating this list, Jasmine carefully selected titles that push boundaries and highlight the fluidity of identity in the Latinx community, even in instances where that fluidity has been met with resistance. These themes are perfectly described by Jasmine’s favorite Chicana author, Gloria Anzaldua: “Living on borders and in margins, keeping intact one’s shifting and multiple identity and integrity, is like trying to swim in a new element, an ‘alien’ element” (Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza). As each of the following titles reveal, navigating the experiences that come with pushing boundaries and noticing fluidity can also lead to discoveries that might impact one’s self or community.