The Diveristy of the Human Experience in LatinX Literature
Amaro Martinez, Edgard Alexis
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There are two major components in this dissertation. First, you will find an analysis of specific texts written by authors I consider having the most significant influence on my writing. In addition, you will find a collection of short stories that have been inspired by my life as a child growing in a Hispanic working-class family in Newark, New Jersey in the late 1970s. The academic or scholarly portion of this dissertation, as I have stated, focuses on authors and the texts that for some reason—whether it be their style, themes, as well as their personal views and positions on social structures, race, gender, and politics—have in some way molded my own interests and positions. Among these authors are Junot Díaz, Ana Lydia Vega, Piri Thomas, and Thomás Rivera. I try to assess the significance and importance of these authors and their texts in Latinx literature tradition. More importantly, I try to establish parallels between my work and their works. By examining these works that capture the realities of Latinx experiences, I discovered how my work, regardless of how I want to frame or portray it, is inevitably Latinx. As hard as I tried to categorize my work as “universal” and intended to appeal to a broader readership, a reflection on the works of these authors, with whom I share similar lived experiences and seemingly the same purpose for writing, has influenced my views on my own work. The second portion of the dissertation is a collection of short stories. These stories are inspired by childhood experiences in the context of a racially and socially heterogeneous environment. They reflect the impact distorted notions of gender and masculinity have on young minds. I think the value of these stories resides in the way they portray how the adults in the lives of these children embody these notions of gender and masculinity and how the children manage the potential psychological and emotional trauma of these distorted notions. Not all stories can be or should be viewed through this lens, however. There are also stories about the realities of urban life in the United States in the late seventies and early eighties in underserved communities. Among these social challenges are the AIDS epidemic, drug addiction, crime, and prostitution. As an individual who as a child lived and experienced firsthand these realities, I have always felt the need to document these stories and make their protagonists visible. I have especially felt the need to make the women—mothers, grandmothers, sisters, teachers—of these communities visible. As the pillars of these communities, I feel they have remained invisible and underrepresented for far too long.