On cultivating the online space you wish to see in the world.
Happy New Year! Yes, it’s a little late to say that, but this is my first column of 2022. Still, I get how annoying it is to be wished “Happy New Year” beyond the second week of January. It feels pointless — we all know it’s a new freaking year!
Equally annoying are all those “MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF THE NEW YEAR” lists. You know the ones I’m talking about — the lists put out by huge media outlets that feature 80 percent white authors (I’m being generous with that percentage). The remainder is generally filled out by the handful of buzzy, BIPOC-authored books that publishers have put some marketing dollars behind to prove “diversity” exists. Inevitably, these books lean toward BIPOC trauma; they rarely explore BIPOC joy.
You might be asking, “Why is this a problem?” Well, it’s a problem for someone like me who has spent her life trying to see herself in white protagonists because I couldn’t find books written by Latinx/e authors. In fact, I didn’t read my first Latinx/e-authored book until I was almost 20. And the majority of fellow Latinx/e readers I know share similar stories of struggling to connect with reading or feel seen in a book.
Even though I have so many more resources for finding Latinx/e-authored books now, it’s still harder than it should be. Every year, I come across multiple Latinx/e-authored books months after their publication date — books that didn’t receive any buzz but that I know Latinx/e and other readers would love.
Instead of being frustrated, I’ve decided to be proactive. I may not be a major media figure, but I can do my best to connect more Latinx/e-authored books with readers. That’s why #NuevasPaginasConLupita was born. It’s a weekly mini-author-interview series in my Instagram feed that’s both an archive and resource spotlighting Hispanic/Latinx/e authors with recently published books.
To date, I’ve interviewed 14 Hispanic/Latinx/e authors, and I’m just getting started. Some I’ve located through TikTok or Instagram, others through Edelweiss (an online platform that posts U.S. publishers’ catalogs). The project has given me new purpose and led me to genres I normally wouldn’t read. I hope to build the space into a place where Latinx/e readers don’t have to struggle to find work that centers our community.
Below are the authors I’ve interviewed and the books we’ve discussed so far. I hope you’ll check them out and consider joining the community and spreading the word about Latinx/e stories and storytelling.
- When We Make It by Elisabet Velasquez
- The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Córdova
- The Five Wounds by Kirstin Valdez Quade
- Brother, Sister, Mother, Explorer by Jamie Figueroa
- Dreaming of You: A Novel in Verse by Melissa Lozada-Oliva
- The President and the Frog by Carolina De Robertis
- Funeral for Flaca by Emilly Prado
- My Broken Language by Quiara Alegría Hudes
- Chica, Why Not? by Sandra Hinojosa Ludwig
- Velorio by Xavier Navarro Aquino
- What's Mine and Yours by Naima Coster
- Women of Fire and Snow by Nati Del Paso
- High-Risk Homosexual by Edgar Gomez
- The Grief and the Happiness and Silhouette by Nancy Viera
Lupita Aquino — better known as Lupita Reads — is the co-founder and current lead of LIT on H St. Book Club at Solid State Books. She is a passionate reader active in both the local and online book community through her Instagram blog, @Lupita.Reads. You can also catch her tweeting about books over at @lupita_reads.