As a fellow Puerto Rican, I know how inspiring the Island and its experiences can be for creative purposes. To most Puerto Rican citizens, our land isn’t just a country: it’s a strong feeling that one must share with the whole world. Over the decades, the Island has had its fair share of writers and famous works, but I’d like to introduce you to five literary short works that will hopefully help you see how impactful Puerto Rican art is, can and will be (most were written in Spanish, so if you don’t speak the language, get your online translators ready!).
“Fahrenheit” is a short story written by modern Puerto Rican author Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro in 2006. Known for her sex positive and LGBTQ+ works, Arroyo Pizzaro’s tale deals with the passion the main character feels towards a romantic partner. There’s also a twist with the modern fear of not being able to fully be yourself with those around you.
- Purificación en la calle del Cristo
“Purificación en la calle del Cristo” is a short story written by René Marqués in 1958. In it, Marqués, one of the most prolific Puerto Rican authors of the last century, narrates the story of three aging sisters: Inés, Emilia and Hortensia. The three of them bicker at each other as they remember times already gone and things they could have done differently.
- La rifa
“La rifa” is a short story written by literary journalist Juan Mártinez Capó in 1959. It was published within the anthology Cuatro cuentos de mujeres, which recalls four short tales of Puerto Rican women going through agony. “La rifa” tells the tale of María Guevara, a woman who seems to naively ignore all the warning signs that her boyfriend’s actions are giving her.
- An Island Like You: Stories of the Barrio
An Island Like You: Stories of the Barrio is an anthology written by Puerto Rican American author Judith Ortiz Cofer and published in 1995. Ortiz Cofer’s book is composed of 12 short stories set in a New Jersey neighborhood. Although these stories do connect with one another at some points, you can read any of them independently and follow the lives of Puerto Rican youth in a United States setting. I’m aware that I’m not recommending a specific story, but that’s because any of them would do great in representing the Nuyorican experience.
- La felicidad, ja, ja, ja y la universidad
“La felicidad ja, ja, ja y la universidad” is an essay written by fellow academic author Ana Lydia Vega in 1989. The essay details the university experience for newcomers and encourages critical thinking within Puerto Rican culture. Although this entry might not be fictional, I included it because the first time I read it, I was a terrified first year student. After reading it, Lydia Vega’s words resonated deep within me and I somehow felt guided.
I earnestly hope that, one day, more people can start celebrating and recognizing literature (and even more art!) from the place I call home. Here’s a great place to get started!