Urban Spaces

Authored by: Raúl Homero Villa

The Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature

Print publication date:  August  2012
Online publication date:  October  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415666060
eBook ISBN: 9780203097199
Adobe ISBN: 9781136221613


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City life has been a generative context and a persistent content of Latino literary expression since the late nineteenth century, when exiles José Martí of Cuba and Francisco Gonzalo Marín of Puerto Rico penned their brief journalistic crónicas (chronicles) of New York. Martí and Marín found the city alternately exhilarating and troubling. But their reflections made little or no reference to the actual experience of Latinos in the city. That specific adaptation of the crónica, occurred in the 1910s and 1920s, when cronistas such as Mexicans Julio G. Arce and Daniel Venegas, Cuban Alberto O’Farrill and Puerto Rican Jesús Colón addressed the situation of growing Latino colonias in San Francisco, San Antonio, Los Angeles, and New York. Regional differences notwithstanding, the crónicas of the Mexican Southwest and the Caribbean Northeast shared some topical interests in humorously satirizing the confusions of greenhorns in the big city, and skewering the cross-cultural adaptations of Latinos to the Anglo-urban cultural milieu (Kanellos 1998). The emergence of the crónica as a foundational urban genre revealed a symbiosis of context and content in Latino expressive practice, wherein the substantial expansion of urban Latino communities begat a ready and spatial concentrated readership for the Latino press even as it provided a field of observation for its urban chroniclers.

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