I love to read. Though the word love does not really encapsulate what I feel. In the words of Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) from the movie Annie Hall, “I luuurve, you know, I loave, I luff” reading. It feeds my soul. It’s the escape from reality that I enjoy most, entering a world of the unknown and seeing it through someone else’s eyes, or coming across a metaphor that is unique and really conjures an image. Those are the great ones. And it’s the original stories that leave an imprint. I’ve read A Thousand Splendid Suns from Khaled Hosseini and was able to get a peek into the Afghan society. I read the The White Tiger which gave me a second hand experience in the daily life of an Indian servant. I read Living to Tell a Tale as I journeyed through different cities/towns in Colombia, such as Bogotá and Cataca. However, where are those stories closest to my heart?
There aren’t many renowned Dominican writers recognized in today’s Latin American literature classes or mentioned amongst current literary giants. Yes, we have Junot Diaz (Pulitzer Prize winner) and Julia Alvarez but both have an American education and write in English. It really makes no difference to me where they were educated. Don’t miss my point. I’m talking about writers who are educated in Dominican Republic, literary masters in the country’s language; Spanish. I’m talking about writer’s whose work is recognized outside of the island. It would of course take a literary genius but where is he/she? There was Joaquin Balaguer and Juan Bosch, both former presidents of DR, but they’re dead. And unless you live in the Dominican Republic you really don’t read about Pedro Mir whose only novel, Cuando Amaban Las Tierras Comuneras (When They Loved the Communal Land) is highly regarded internationally. Then there was Salomé Ureña, a poet and a pioneer for women’s education in DR, but where is the modern voice? A voice of today that can appeal and represent not only the country’s literary array but internationally as well.
Balaguer, Bosh, Mir, and Ureña are all in the past. Where are today’s literary works? I don’t want to just hear about those who have already assimilated. I’m far too familiar with that story, though not personally. I want to hear about those who lived there for a big part of their lives. Someone who can share a story on how they spent their Sunday afternoons walking around El Malecón with their family after a movie and buying candy from el paletero. Take a look at Colombia’s Gabriel Garcia Marquez Cien Años de Soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude), and Chile’s Pablo Neruda (Nobel Prize winner) whose Veinte Poemas de Amor y Una Cancion Desesperada, (Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair) is his most highly acclaimed book of poetry, or Isabel Allende who wrote La Casa de Los Espíritus, (The House of Spirits). So what’s going on with the Dominicans who seem to have been stigmatized for having success in American Baseball
and for their shameless debauchery such as crime, violence, and drugs? Unless we’re talking about Baseball, Dominicans don’t really hold a positive light in the American eye. Is it a fault of the education system? Anti-literacy in the popular culture? Maybe because we’re too small of a country, and hence have a very small market for publishing? I don’t know, but can’t help to ask.