INTRODUCTION

From Chicken Soup for the Latino Soul

Introduction

It has been an honor for me to coauthor Chicken Soup for the Latino Soul, which I hope will make a meaningful contribution to Latino communities across the nation. I have worked for four years on Latino Soul and have nurtured every piece of writing in the book. I have had the pleasure of working with a diverse group of Latino/a authors whose talent and spirit have inspired me throughout the process, and whose stories are the heart and soul of Latino Soul. While any reader of this series will be drawn to the powerful stories told in these pages, Latino Soul will have special meaning for Latinos/as, who will find stories and poems that reflect in significant ways many of the challenges we face, the joys we share, the hurdles we jump, the wisdom of our elders, the laughter that unites us, the losses we endure, the lessons we learn, the people who hold our families together, and the faith, hope and relationships that keep us sane and moving forward.

My goal in writing, collecting, and editing stories and poems for Chicken Soup for the Latino Soul was to make available to readers a book that presents universally human themes from within Latino perspectives and experiences. The experiences narrated in this collection include the history of Latino immigrants whose sacrifice and hard work have contributed decisively to the growth and prosperity of this nation, and who have paved the way for new generations of Latinos in the United States; the sense of connection to our ancestral homelands, or the longing for that connection; the complexity of Latino identity; the search for spiritual connection with our loved ones who have passed away, and the importance of caring for the dying, and remembering and celebrating the dead; the challenge and advantage of bilingualism, the struggle to preserve the Spanish language in adverse conditions, and the often comical consequences of living in two languages (Spanglish); the inspiration drawn from Latino cultural traditions and spiritual beliefs; Latino faith in the power of community; the central place of family in our cultures, and the fierce loyalty of children to their parents, grandparents and siblings; the vital importance of mothers and grandmothers (las abuelitas) in providing and caring for us and in teaching us life’s lessons; the supreme value of food in our cultures, and the way that Latinos love, learn and strengthen cultural bonds in the kitchen; the belief in the supernatural, and the stories of inexplicable events and magical powers that are often tied to tales of faith, miraculous healing, Indian and African traditions and spiritual renewal.

It has been my great pleasure over the last four years to receive an outpouring of love and support from Latino/a people all over the United States who have thanked me for making this contribution to our communities. But it is I who want to thank each and every person who has made contact with me. Thank you, de todo corazón, for your kind words and constant support, and for giving me the inspiration and confidence to keep going. Thank you for having waited patiently for the release of this book.

I am thrilled to present this collection of compelling stories en celebración de la comunidad latina. My hope is that Latino Soul will give all of us an opportunity to honor the diversity, dignity and beauty of Latino life in the United States. ¡Que disfruten!

Susan Sánchez-Casal

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