Latino U.S.A.: A Cartoon History

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Basic Books, 2000 - History - 175 pages
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Latino USA represents the culmination of Ilan Stavans's lifelong determination to meet the challenges of capturing the joys, nuances, and multiple dimensions of Latino culture within the context of the English language. In this cartoon history of Latinos, Stavans seeks to combine the solemnity of so-called "serious literature" and history with the inherently theatrical and humorous nature of the comics. The range of topics includes Columbus, Manifest Destiny, the Alamo, William Carlos Williams, Desi Arnaz, West Side Story, Castro, Guevera, the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Neruda, García Márquez, the Mariel Boatlift, and Selena. Stavans represents Hispanic civilization as a fiesta of types, archetypes, and stereotypes. These "cliché figurines" include a toucan (displayed regularly in books by García Márquez, Allende, and others), the beloved Latino comedian Cantinflas (known as "the Hispanic Charlie Chaplin"), a masked wrestler, and Captain America. These multiple, at times contradictory voices, each narrating various episodes of Latino history from a unique perspective, combine to create a carnivalesque rhythm, democratic and impartial. For, as Stavans states, "History, of course, is a kaleidoscope where nothing is absolute." Latino USA, like the history it so entertainingly relates, is a dazzling kaleidoscope of irreverence, wit, subversion, anarchy, politics, humanism, celebration, and serious and responsible history.

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Latino U. S. A.: a cartoon history

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Noted critic Stavans (The One Handed Pianist and Other Stories) and Chicano artist Alcaraz offer a breezy, quick-paced romp through Latin American history, beginning in 1492 and running through the ... Read full review

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About the author (2000)

Ilan Stavans is a Mexican-born essayist and cultural critic and the author of over 20 books. Since 1993 he has been on the faculty at Amherst College, Massachusetts, where he is the Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture. He has also taught a various other institutions, including Columbia University. In 1997, Stavans was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and has been the recipient of international prizes and honors, including the Latino Literature Prize, Chile’s Presidential Medal, and the Rubén Darío Distinction. He lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.

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