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message 1: by Kristel (last edited Sep 02, 2018 04:54PM) (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 4261 comments Mod
Hispanic Heritage Month is September 15 to October but we are covering it in September. It celebrates the independence of five Latin American countries (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence Sept 16 and Sept. 18.

1. Read and review the book of your choice and discuss how this book informs about Hispanic Culture. Where is the story set? What is the nationality of the author?

2. Did you learn anything new? Share some Spanish words that you found in your book. If you read your book in Spanish, how do you think it translated to English.

3. If you are on Litsy, share some pictures or captions from your reading. Use these hashatags. #1001Diversify, #reading1001, #Hispanicheritagemonth. You can tag JenP, BookwormM, Kristelh if you like.

4. Analyze similarities and differences between cultures by investigating themes and motifs found in literature.


message 2: by Gail (new)

Gail (gailifer) | 1537 comments Underdogs - 4 stars

1. Read and review the book of your choice and discuss how this book informs about Hispanic Culture. Where is the story set? What is the nationality of the author?

I read Underdogs which is written by a Mexican author about Mexico at the time of the revolution. The author evidently participated in events during the revolution and therefore had insights into the nature of the people struggling at the time. The story largely circles around a small group of rebels who are uneducated and are mostly fighting against the perceived corruption of the government that supports a feudal landowner system. This system kept the peasants in a barely surviving mode.

2. Did you learn anything new? Share some Spanish words that you found in your book. If you read your book in Spanish, how do you think it translated to English.

I read the book in English and the words that were left untranslated in Spanish tended to be exclamations. I learned that the word "underdogs" has no reference to dogs in Spanish and seems to be an even larger more all encompassing phrase. I think the translation was quite good as different characters came across quite distinctly by their use of unique language conventions. Louis C. is quite educated and it shows for example.

3. If you are on Litsy, share some pictures or captions from your reading. Use these hashatags. #1001Diversify, #reading1001, #Hispanicheritagemonth. You can tag JenP, BookwormM, Kristelh if you like.

4. Analyze similarities and differences between cultures by investigating themes and motifs found in literature.

If you compare this revolution with others I have read about (American, French, Russian) this appears to be quite different. Probably the Russian revolution is the closest as on some level it was a peasant uprising but it was largely lead by intellectuals and there were large army actions involved whereas this book only speaks about what would now be considered guerrilla activities and there is no discussion about land reform, for example. There are many pockets of fighting men pulled from the landowners and from the jails who are going up against the Federal troops. Although these rebels are in awe of Pancho Villa they do not know him or even what he stands for except that he is with "the people". He is more inspiring myth than leader in this book. The rebels appeared to enjoy the violent acts they participate in. This violence, their pride in their ability to shoot well and to have control over their victims seems to motivate them more than any political ideals. Plus the federals ranks are equally populated with the poor and the oppressed even if they are forced to fight for the corrupt government. The women are all focused on the men and following their men rather than on the revolution. In some ways it is a bit like "All Quiet on the Western Front" but from the point of view of a very different culture in that we are given the point of view of just a small collection of men rather than an overview of the whole revolution or war. Also, the Mexican peasant culture of Underdogs is one of deep passions that are openly expressed in speeches, actions and song and these passions survive in spite of the extreme conditions. In the end, no one knows what they are fighting for. When asked, the main character throws a pebble down a canyon to indicate that the pebble has no option but to keep going.


message 3: by Gail (last edited Sep 20, 2018 10:31AM) (new)

Gail (gailifer) | 1537 comments 1. Read and review the book of your choice and discuss how this book informs about Hispanic Culture. Where is the story set? What is the nationality of the author?

I read Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez as my second book for Hispanic Heritage month. I have recently read Lolita and The Kindly ones as part of 1001 challenge and to find myself once again reading about obsession was interesting. The author is a well known winner of the Noble Prize in Literature who was born in Colombia and who went on to live in Mexico City. The story is set on the banks of the Magdalena River in Colombia and is very informed by the Caribbean culture of that country in the late 1800's and the first half of the 1900's. The book was written in 1988 but the author never gives us a date of the happenings in the book but we can guess from references to paddle boats and early airplanes. The whole book lives in the heat, humidity and the jungle like gardens of that area. The heat is as present in the book as any of the characters and although Colombia has a mountain region that is cool and breezy that is only occasionally referred to.

2. Did you learn anything new? Share some Spanish words that you found in your book. If you read your book in Spanish, how do you think it translated to English.

It is really unrealistic for me to draw any insights on Hispanic Culture based on two books that I had to read in translation. However, I found that the language flow in both books was melodious and sensual and wonder if it was the nature of the stories or the fact that the translations were excellent or simply some of the wonderful music of the Spanish language seeps through even in English.

3. If you are on Litsy, share some pictures or captions from your reading. Use these hashatags. #1001Diversify, #reading1001, #Hispanicheritagemonth. You can tag JenP, BookwormM, Kristelh if you like.

4. Analyze similarities and differences between cultures by investigating themes and motifs found in literature.

Again, this is only a comparison of two very different books but there were definitely common themes. Both the books were informed by civil war. In Mexico, in the Underdogs it was the core of the book, while in Love the civil wars in Colombia were a given that constantly played out in the background with both tongue in cheek references to the Conservatives and Liberals and in very violent human slaughter in the uplands. Neither book could divorce themselves from war any more than they could divorce themselves from the heat. Both books describe a class structure that was repressive and in Love, a set of cultural conventions based on that class structure that limited actions of the main characters particularly the women. In Love also, the class structure was complicated by the racial relations between the population of the Caribbean town. People were judged by the length of their names and the color of their skin. Both books are informed by the Catholicism of the population and in both books there are characters who are loyal to a faith and not loyal to the church. The leaders of the church were seen by some characters in both books as simply another form of class repression as they tended to occupy very powerful positions. Both books had little to no overt "magical realism" but the beliefs of the people in superstition and in a broad view of the nature of reality did come through in both books. In Love in the Time of Cholera, even without magical realism, one is made to give up on any realistic look at human affairs as it is about the unnatural obsession of a man for a woman that lasts over 50 years without any realistic hope that the obsession would be rewarded.

I put a bit of review in under 1001 Reviews as a comment to Kristels' review from earlier this year.

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message 4: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 4261 comments Mod
I read The Underdogs by Mariano Azuela. Thank you JenP for this choice.
1. The story was set in Mexico and tells the story of the revolution from the the native of Mexico's perspective and the land that belonged to them and the the peasants right to fight back against the oppressive Spanish conquerors. The nationality of the author is Mexican. Mariano Azuela Gonzalez was a Mexican author and a physician. According to Wikipedia, he is the first of the novelists of the Revolution and he influence author novelists of social protest. He actually was a part of the Mexican revolution.

2. Los de Abajo (the title) which means the lowest of low, can't get any lower.

3. If you are on Litsy, share some pictures or captions from your reading. Use these hashatags. #1001Diversify, #reading1001, #Hispanicheritagemonth. You can tag JenP, BookwormM, Kristelh if you like. Done.

4. The purpose of a revolution is to reject the identity of the colonizer which I think is different a bit from the American revolution. The revolutionists in the US were part of the colonizers. To be the underdog made the revolution even more precarious. In the book, the author shows that Demetrio may care more about the revolution that he does his people and land, thus they march into towns destroying homes of the peasants, stealing from the peasants and engage in looting, drunkenness, debauchery.

I felt that the fact that the author was a physician was evident in the book. He gave details of wounds, injuries and health care that might not otherwise been included in a story like this. The author actually participated in the revolution as a physician in the army of Pancho Villa. The book certainly presents the reality of war and revolution.


message 5: by Melissa (new)

Melissa I read Underdogs...set in Mexico, interesting insight I thought into the Mexican Revolution.

Overall it seemed really choppy to me, I’m hoping it was the translation I read.

But as a whole, I liked the topics it raised of the necessity and inspiration to join, the hard realities of war, and in the end you end up becoming that which you left to fight.


message 6: by Tracy (new)

Tracy (tstan) | 559 comments I read The Underdogs, too. Melissa, you and I must have read the same translation. I liked the story, but I feel like I was missing something.


message 7: by Diane (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments I read Money to Burn by Ricardo Piglia.

1. Read and review the book of your choice and discuss how this book informs about Hispanic Culture. Where is the story set? What is the nationality of the author?
The story is set in Argentina and Uruguay. The author is Argentine. I think I would have got more out of the book if I was from that area and could identify better with the location.

2. Did you learn anything new? Share some Spanish words that you found in your book. If you read your book in Spanish, how do you think it translated to English.
I saw Spanish words I recognized, but none that were new to me (I speak Spanish). I read the book in English, though.

4. Analyze similarities and differences between cultures by investigating themes and motifs found in literature.
The book is about a bank heist. I think a lot of the procedural things may have been done differently. The social and political climate of the book's setting (1960's Argentina) was very different from what we experience in the US.


message 8: by Diane (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments For my second book, I read The Burning Plain and Other Stories by Juan Rulfo.

1. Read and review the book of your choice and discuss how this book informs about Hispanic Culture. Where is the story set? What is the nationality of the author?
This book consists of stories that show a slice of life in mid-20th century rural Mexico. The author is Mexican.

2. Did you learn anything new? Share some Spanish words that you found in your book. If you read your book in Spanish, how do you think it translated to English.
A word I wasn't familiar with was escapulario. It translates to "scapular" and is a special garment worn by Catholics to remind them of their faith. In the book, it was a means to chase the devil out of someone. I think this book translated well to English.

4. Analyze similarities and differences between cultures by investigating themes and motifs found in literature.
Common themes in the book were poverty, violence, and limited opportunities (especially for women). The characters in the book were living in the aftermath of the Mexican Revolution, and times were tough. Folkloric beliefs were still important to many of the characters.


message 9: by Pip (last edited Sep 30, 2018 02:24AM) (new)

Pip | 1481 comments I started Dom Casmurro, but it wasn't Hispanic so I made a late decision to choose Love in the Time of Cholera, which I had read before, but as it was at least 25 years ago and I could only remember the ending, I decided to listen to the Audible version.
1. Love in the Time of Cholera is a complicated book. Ostensibly the story of an unrequited love affair, love is equated with cholera, as an overheating illness. The heroine, Fermina Daza, rejects her passionate admirer, Florentino Ariza and instead marries a successful doctor, Juvenal Urbino. Each of these three characters lives a life of varying vicissitudes. It is set in an unnamed South American country, somewhere near the Caribbean, but my local knowledge is too little to place it accurately. The author is Colombian and he wrote the book in Spanish. I surmise that the setting is a fictional place in Colombia.

2. I felt that the setting was beautifully depicted and I could imagine the heat and humidity of an equatorial place. The Audible version was read by a native Spanish speaker, Armando Duran, and I had to look up the names of the characters because I could not understand his pronunciation of their names. Once I had seen them in print (I am a visual learner) I was much better able to understand who was who. I do not speak any Spanish, but the translation, as it was read, did not leave anything untranslated, that I can remember, unlike the other book I have just read, Under the Volcano, which has a lot of Spanish phrases which I have to guess at.

3. As I listened rather than read, I don't actually have any visuals I can share on Litsy.


4. This was set in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Colombia, perhaps, when fathers had great power in their families to approve or disapprove of their daughters' choices. Also when one's occupation was a very important part of one's social status and everyone who had status was preoccupied with maintaining it, and everyone else was striving to be upwardly mobile. This was probably not very different to New Zealand in the same era. The political uncertainty and background of civil war, however, were very different. Marquez writes with great facility and makes imagining a very different time and place absolutely simple for the reader.


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