Four Latinx bookshops to celebrate World Book Day
April 23 is the big day for book lovers around the world to celebrate their favorite books and love of reading with authors, publishers and bookstores.
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The daughter of Mexican immigrants, when Chawa Magaña decided to open Palabras, a bilingual bookstore in the heart of Phoenix, she did so out of a need to create "an inclusive space where the voices of marginalized people are represented and valued."
Initially, this bookstore, emblematic of the power of the Latinx and Afro-Latinx community, began by organizing workshops and events, and gradually increased its inventory of highly selected books and included an art gallery, until it became a cultural center.
The best proof of this is the event Palabras is organizing tomorrow 24 April, an artists' showcase entitled Letters From El Valle & Beyond featuring "vivid desert readings" by local artists such as Randy Heflin, a humor writer; Margarita Cruz, associate editor of Tolsun Books, and Oscar Mancinas, a Rarámuri-Chicanx writer and poet.
Undoubtedly, a diverse place in many ways with the community at its center.
Run by Chiara and Celene, LA Libreria is a necessary place in Los Angeles for Spanish-language culture and a bridge between young American readers and writers from Latin America and Spain.
The owners put a lot of effort into carefully selecting their catalog aimed at children and young adults, which includes graphic novels, poetry, fiction and non-fiction, with an emphasis on the great cultural and historical diversity of the Hispanic world. In addition, they have all kinds of activities that promote reading and learning Spanish, concerts and events with local and international musicians, writers and artists.
"The bookshop was born out of our passion for children's literature and bilingual education," say the owners of LA Libreria on their website. So after facing the scarce availability of quality books in Southern California, they took a leap forward.
"With the bookstore we seek to promote the amazingly rich traditions of children's literature in Spanish, the benefits of bilingualism and the pleasure of reading, seeing and feeling well-written and illustrated books," they conclude.
Not strictly a bookstore, but a cultural organization with a three-decade history that works to promote emerging writers and Latinx/Chicanx and Native American literature in Austin's indigenous neighborhoods.
A space for both cultural exchange and cultural heritage recovery, it was founded by the poet raúlrsalinas, whose own story has much to do with the struggle for social justice and roots.
During his time in prison years ago, Salinas' prison poetry began to flourish alongside his work with other prisoners on art and literature. He eventually became an activist for prisoners' rights and a great exponent of Chicano literature.
Since the state of alarm was established in the United States and with it the quarantine, this fabulous bilingual bookstore in Bushwick (New York) run by a collective of writers, booksellers and artists has decided to keep running its online Spanish classes and also its book deliveries by bicycle; they have also ceded the physical space of the shop for the collection of protective equipment (PPE) and other aid items.
The story of this well-known community bookstore is as beautiful as the space itself: when the housing bubble threatened to turn Bushwick into a nouveau riche neighborhood, Mil Mundos emerged as a place to empower the neighborhood with half of its titles available in Spanish, which is the most widely spoken language in this area of Brooklyn.
Since its inception in 2018, it has become a multicultural epicenter for exploring black, Latino and indigenous heritage through literature.