Contemporary Latin American Fiction


Flash Interviews:

1. Have a conversation with three people in the group based on these questions.

What did you learn in our class?

What was your favorite topic/reading/film/author/assignment?

What was difficult this semester and how did you deal with or overcome that obstacle?

2. Share your takeaways.


Create an outline in bullet points of your letter considering all the different parts of the project.

Introductory Paragraph- Who are you “writing” to? What threads or ideas from the course are you going to highlight?

Body Paragraphs: What three sources are you going to discuss? How do they connect with each other? How do they differentiate? What general narrative are you building with these distinct discussions?

Conclusion: What arguments will you emphasize? How are you going to finish your written portrait of the class? What are some of your “all in all” ideas as of now?

Other questions to consider: What tone are you going to take? Are you going to incorporate creative elements? Which ones? How will you experiment with the epistolary genre?

General Brainstorming

What tips would you give your classmates to finish the semester successfully?

Caroline’s Wedding (166-188)

Close Reading Discussion Part I


.Read together with two partners one of the following sections of “Caroline’s Wedding.”

.Each group will present their analysis to the class. They should include the following information in their presentation:

-The literal meaning of the quote

-The figurative meaning of the quote

-The thematic significance of the quote

.Reflect on how these quotes connect to the novel’s larger themes and messages.

Caroline’s shower (166-168)

Ma acted like a waitress and served everyone as Caroline took center stage sitting on the loveseat that we designated the “shower chair.” She was wearing one of her minidresses, a navy blue with a wide butterfly collar. We laid the presents in front of her to open, after she had guessed what was inside. (167)

Packing Gifts (168-171)

“Maybe she jumps at it because she thinks he is being noble. Maybe she thinks he is doing her a favor. Maybe she thinks he is the only man who will ever come along to marry her. ”

“Maybe he loves her,” I said.

“Love cannot make horses fly,” she said. “Caroline should not marry a man if that man wants to be noble by marrying Caroline.”

“We don’t know that, Ma.”

“The heart is like a stone,” she said. “We never know what it is in the middle.

“Only some hearts are like that,” I said.

“That is where we make mistakes,” she said. “All hearts are stone until we melt, and then they turn back to stone again,”

Did you feel that way when Papa married that woman?” I asked.

My heart has a store of painful marks,” she said, “and that is one of them.” (170)

The Eve (171-174)

Caroline went to our room and came back wearing her wedding dress and a prosthetic arm.

Ma’s eyes wandered between the bare knees poking beneath the dress and the device attached to Caroline’s forearm.

“I went out today and got myself a wedding present,” Car­oline said. It was a robotic arm with two shoulder straps that controlled the motion of the plastic fingers. (173)

The Wedding Day (174-179)

Ma’s eyes were fierce with purpose as she tried to stir Car­oline out of her stupor.

“At last a sign,” she joked. “She is my daughter after all. This is just the way I was on the day of my wedding.”

Caroline groaned as Ma ran the leaves over her skin. (175)


Caroline’s face, as I had known it, slowly began to fade, piece by piece, before my eyes. Another woman was setting in, a married woman, someone who was no longer my little sister.

“I, Caroline Azile, take this man to be my lawful wedded husband.”

I couldn’t help but feel as though she was divorcing us, trading in her old allegiances for a new one. (179)



Close Reading Discussion Part II

Chain Reaction Analysis

General Instructions:

Analyze the quote in detail. What does it reveal about the text’s characters, themes, or plot? What is the tone or mood of the quote?

The Toast

“Say something for your sister,” Ma said in my ear.

I stood up and held my glass in her direction.

“A few years ago, our parents made this journey,” I said.

“This is a stop on the journey where my sister leaves us. We will miss her greatly, but she will never be gone from us.”

It was something that Ma might have said. (181)

The Roses

“Who are they from.?” I asked.

“Caroline,” she said. “Sweet, sweet Caroline.”

Distance had already made my sister Saint Sweet Caroline. “Are you convinced of Caroline’s happiness now.?” I asked.

“You ask such difficult questions.”

That night she went to bed with a few Polaroids of the wedding photos and the roses by her bed. Later, I saw her walking past her room cradling the vase. She woke up several times to sniff the roses and change the water. (182)

The Dream

Then he asked me, “If we were painters, which landscapes would we paint?”

I said, “I don’t understand.”

He said, “We are playing a game, you must answer me.”

I said, “I don’t know the answers.”

“When you become mothers, how will you name your sons?”

“We’ll name them all after you,” I said.

“You have forgotten how to play this game,” he said. “What kind of lullabies do we sing to our children at night?

“Where do you bury your dead?”

His face was fading into a dreamy glow.

“What kind of legends will your daughters be told? What kinds of charms will you give them to ward off evil?” (183)

The Passport

My passport came in the mail the next day, addressed to Gracina Azile, my real and permanent name.

I filled out all the necessary sections, my name and address, and listed my mother to be contacted in case I was in an accident. For the first time in my life, I felt truly secure living in America. It was like being in a war zone and finally receiving a weapon of my own, like standing on the firing line and finally getting a bulletproof vest.

We had all paid dearly for this piece of paper, this final assurance that I belonged in the club. It had cost my parents’ marriage, my mother’s spirit, my sister’s arm.

I felt like an indentured servant who had finally been allowed to join the family. (185-6)


The kitchen radio was playing an old classic on one of the Haitian stations.

Beloved Haiti, there is no place like you.
I had to leave you before I could understand you. (185)

“Why is it that when you lose something, it is always in the last place that you look for it?” she asked finally.

Because of course, once you remember, you always stop looking. (188)

Caroline’s Wedding (Pages 154-166)- Edwidge Danticat

In  “Caroline’s Wedding” generation gaps are intertwined with cultural differences, various immigrant experiences, and access to US American citizenship. Each member interacts with the American culture in Brooklyn through different approaches. The mother works towards Haitian cultural retention and diasporic solidarity, Gracina to achieve a successful intercultural way of life and Caroline to adapt completely to a non-religious, progressive, and practical U.S.

This is shown throughout the wedding process. There are clashing views within the family regarding the courtship, the wedding shower, and the actual wedding ceremony. The event also marks their contrasting opinions and practices of womanhood and love relationships.

Although the mother and her daughters are living in a tense period, all of them demonstrate their commitment to some negotiation based on mutual love.

Class Presentation(s)




Individual Writing Exercise


Identify and discuss one of the following topics in an index card

.Dreams (154-5; 164-5)

.Memories of old Haitian life and beliefs (156-8, 165-6)

.Wedding preparations (159-63)

.Mother-daughter relationship (162-3)

Caroline’s Wedding (Pages 139-153)- Edwidge Danticat

Edwidge Danticat is an award-winning writer of Haitian descent. Danticat was born on January 19, 1969, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Her parents, fleeing the oppressive regimes of Francois Duvalier and son Jean-Claude, were able to settle in Brooklyn, New York, while Danticat and younger sibling André had to remain behind. After years of correspondence, Danticat and her brother were able to come to the States, being reunited with their parents and meeting two new siblings they didn’t know. Danticat started to hone her craft as a writer during her adolescence.

Danticat went to study French literature at Barnard College in Manhattan, later earning a creative writing graduate degree from Brown University in 1993.

Over the years, Danticat has penned a variety of fiction and non-fiction, chronicling the lives of Haitian citizens and creating vivid, unflinching portrayals of injustice.

Caroline’s Wedding

“Caroline’s Wedding” is a novella that explores the complexities of diasporic life, the importance of cultural heritage, and the impact of displacement on families. It portrays the story of a Haitian family living in Brooklyn, New York. The narrative revolves around the events leading up to Caroline’s wedding but delves deep into the family’s history.

Throughout the novella, the narrator interweaves flashbacks, reflections on dreams, spiritual beliefs, and family traditions to create a vivid picture of the family’s past and present.

Through the use of symbolism, Danticat paints a portrait of Haitian culture and its struggles, including the history of slavery and the ills of colonialism. The novel’s spiritual undertones and mystical elements highlight the importance of traditions and the spiritual beliefs that have been passed down from generation to generation.

Class Presentation (s)




Discuss in five groups. Look for sections and quotes to support your answers.

Describe the narrator’s family migration story? (139-142)

How the story of her courtship allows the reader to understand, Ma’s resistance to Caroline’s wedding? (142-146)

Explain the following quote from the priest at the ceremony to the dead: “We have come here this far, from the shackles of the old Africans” (146- 149)

How the narrator’s dream about her father permits to reflect on certain beliefs of the Haitians but also on different approaches to mourning? (149- 152)

Reflect on Caroline’s missing arm metaphorically from the perspective of immigration and second-generation livelihood. (153)

Asynchronous Blog Post on Caroline’s Wedding


1. Read “Caroline’s Wedding” by Edwidge Danticat (Blackboard: Course Documents).

3. Pick ONE of the following options and respond in the comment section down below. The deadline is Wednesday, 5/3 before the class.

200-word minimum.


How does the setting of the story, a Haitian-US American family organizing a wedding, shape the themes and conflicts that emerge throughout the narrative? What cultural tensions or differences are highlighted by the juxtaposition of these two cultural contexts?


In what ways does the character of Caroline embody the challenges and contradictions of the immigrant experience in the United States? How do her relationships with her family members reflect larger themes of identity, belonging, and cultural fusion?


What narrative strategies does Danticat use to convey the complex emotions and histories of her characters, and how do these strategies shape our understanding of the story’s central themes?

Cerezas por papeles/Cherries for Documents- Helen Ceballos

Entry Question

Helen Ceballos describes a harrowing experience of attempting to cross the water from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico. What does this story reveal about the risks and dangers of migration, and how might it shape our understanding of the factors that drive people to undertake such journeys?

Thinking of these questions, describe how the photographs expand on the topics of migration present in Ceballos’s text.

What emotions does this (textual/visual) retelling of the experience of crossing waters arise in you?


Helen Ceballos is a Dominican performer, visual artist, writer, and cultural promoter that addresses issues of migration to Puerto Rico and the US; Black Atlantic, and Queer Afro-Latinidad.

Cerezas por papeles/ Cherries for documents, a photo-text, forms a part of a broader composition that Ceballos conceived and executed at a gallery in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The piece is an assemblage of fragments that draws from Ceballos’ personal experiences of relocating to Puerto Rico and traveling to various other countries, such as Brazil, Argentina, and the US. Ceballos contends that comprehending the theme of migration requires us to engage with diverse modes of expression, accounts, and viewpoints. Specifically, she has a vested interest in how Dominican and Caribbean women are affected by migration. Furthermore, she seeks to explore the ways in which the vulnerability of migrants is compounded by gender-based oppression, anti-blackness, and perpetual misinterpretation.



Del Rosario De Regino,Ethan Valentino


Group Work

What does Ceballos mean when she says, “empathy appears when we glimpse kindness among those of us who migrate clandestinely, and we become siblings”? How does this relate to the experiences shared in the reading?

What is the significance of the phrase “out of sight, out of mind, out of the heart” in the context of the reading?

In the story about the woman who fell into the sea and the man who said, “It was her or us,” what does this reveal about the attitudes towards survival and self-preservation during the journey of clandestine migration?

The excerpt includes several accounts of people engaging in illegal or exploitative activities related to migration, such as renting out a birth certificate for a fee or offering a fraudulent marriage to facilitate the legalization process. What do these stories reveal about the social and economic dynamics of migration, and how might they contribute to cycles of vulnerability and exploitation?

Asynchronous Blog Post on Cerezas por papeles/ Cherries for Documents


1. Read “Cerezas por papeles/ Cherries for documents” by Helen Ceballos (Blackboard: Course Documents).

3. Pick ONE of the following options and respond in the comment section down below. The deadline is Wednesday, 4/26 before the class.

200-word minimum.

Option One

Can you describe the various risks associated with migration and traveling as discussed in Ceballos’ piece? Additionally, what strategies are suggested to cope with these challenges?

Option Two

In Ceballos’ piece, could you provide a more detailed explanation of the concept of performing citizenship?

Option Three

What intergenerational knowledge does Ceballos gain from the women in her family? Please discuss.

Malcriada- Lorraine Avila

Part I: Migration


Lorraine Avila, a writer and educator from the Bronx, New York, draws inspiration from the diasporic experience of her community, family, and the women before her. Her stories delve into the lives of layered characters, taking readers on a journey of loss, triumph, and healing. Through her writing, Avila offers insight into the complexities of displacement and its impact on migrants. Her work has been featured in various publications, including Hippocampus Magazine, Moko Magazine, and La Galeria Magazine. In 2017, she received her Masters in teaching from New York University and was awarded a scholarship from The Wing Scholarship Program in 2019. Avila currently resides in the Bronx.

Here are some of the connecting themes within Malcriada and Other Stories:

  1. Identity: Many of the stories in the collection explore questions of identity, including how identity is shaped by factors such as migration, culture, gender, and family.
  2. Migration and class: Migration is a recurring theme throughout the collection, with many stories exploring the experiences of immigrants and the challenges they face in adapting to new cultures and environments. Class is also a recurring theme in the collection. Migration often involves significant cultural and economic changes, which can be especially challenging for individuals from lower social classes who may lack the resources and support systems necessary to navigate these changes.
  3. Gender: Several stories in the collection focus on gender, including the ways in which gender roles and expectations intersect with cultural and societal expectations related to migration.
  4. Family and gender: Family is another important theme in the collection, with many stories exploring the complex relationships between family members and the challenges of navigating these patriarchal relationships in the context of migration and cultural change.
  5. Culture: Culture is a central theme in many of the stories, with several exploring the clash between traditional Dominican culture and US American culture.


Perez,Rosary M



Group Discussions

.What challenges do the protagonist and her family face as migrants in the story?

.In what ways does the protagonist’s experience of intra-Caribbean migration reflect broader issues related to migration and displacement in the Caribbean region?

.How does the story use specific details and imagery to portray the Dominican migrant experience?

.How does the protagonist’s experience of traveling via yola shape her perspective on migration and her identity as a Dominican migrant?

.How does the story suggest ways in which society can work to address the dangers faced by migrants who travel via yolas?

Part II: The Role of Gender in Migration

Creative Writing Exercise

Inspired by the letter in Spanish in the short story, write a short letter to yourself as a child inviting yourself to express and advocate for yourself and speak up about things that matter to you.

Group Discussion/ Group Listening

Pick ONE of the questions. Each member of the group will speak for one minute and thirty seconds.

.How does Avila portray the relationship between the protagonist, her mother, and her Abuela in “Malcriada”? What role do these characters play in shaping the protagonist’s experience of migration and gender expectations?

.What gender expectations or roles are depicted in the story, and how does “Malcriada” challenge or subvert those traditional gender norms?

.How does the protagonist navigate the expectations placed on her as a girl in Dominican society?

.What is the significance of the protagonist’s decision to stand up to her mother, and how does this relate to broader themes of agency and empowerment for women?

Asynchronous Blog Post on Malcriada


1. Read the short story “Malcriada” by Lorraine Ávila (Blackboard: Course Documents).

3. Pick ONE of the following options and respond in the comment section down below. The deadline is Wednesday, 4/19 before the class.

200-word minimum.


Unpack the significance of the narrator’s (nick)name “Malcriada.” How Avila uses this word to present a critique of how young girls and femmes are silenced within patriarchal societies.


Elaborate on the intra-Caribbean migration routes presented by the story and Miguel’s and the narrator’s understanding of the ocean.


What are the conditions and life-threatening dangers of migrating through yolas as presented by Ávila?

Beauty Salon (Part III and IV)- Mario Bellatin| Self-Care Workshop

Part III

Exercise Three

The narrator of Beauty Salon believes that establishing boundaries is essential to developing care work. For example, they only accept (gay) men experiencing an advanced stage of the illness. In the novella, like in real life, there is a major stigma around the disease. The narrator and guests are dying from this disease as well as dealing with a society already against them.  (Pages 10, 11, 51-55)

Think about your boundaries and limits.

How do you set, or would like to set boundaries around work, school, social media use, or relationships?

.Sectioning school work (for example through the Pomodoro method)

.Intentionally stop working during the weekend and/or take advantage of the weekend as a period of self-care and socialization.

.Deleting or removing social media apps from your phone or restricting time on them.

.Understanding how social media works in terms of logarithm and data and how they alter your attention and focus.

.Develop consciousness on social media addiction and how the logarithms first feed from you but then model you and your media consumption.

How can you communicate your self-care needs to others in your life, such as family members, coworkers, or friends?

.It is difficult to raise boundaries and communicate self-care needs with immediate family members and within exploitative job environments. However, it is important to raise and reflect on the question as your well-being is at stake.

Presentation (s)

Khaneja,Mahima K

Gordon-Gatica,Diego Joseph

Part IV

How to narrate a pandemic?

Realizing that there were many others with nowhere else to go, [they] reluctantly began to take them in, too. [They]’d taken it upon [themselves] to establish a place in which the sick could die in a way far more respectful of life than any of their other meager options provided, at the same time contending with the mysterious plague and the sick society in which it thrives by escaping into a beautiful if sometimes troubling world of his own creation. 

What [the narrator] has given to them, and Bellatin to us, is a model for dying, and for living; for treating the abject body with honesty and respect, despite its difference and decay—perhaps because of it. Even if it seems too much to say. Bellatin offers a different way of reading, and of telling, a story—one in which what is unsaid, incompletely rendered, allows respectful room for discovering and conveying more than we might have imagined, or were told that we could.

Maggie Riggs

What did you think of the narrator and their way of telling the story? What is your opinion on the ending of the novella? How did it leave you feeling and what message did you take away from it?



Brooks,Tiana Ablessing


Exercise Four

A manifesto is a public declaration of principles, beliefs, or intentions issued by an individual, group, or organization. It is a written statement that outlines a specific set of ideas, values, or goals.

In groups write a self-care manifesto. Use these open questions as guidance:

What “gives you life”? What is your “yes”? How can you build a community of support around your self-care routine? Who are some people in your life that you can turn to for accountability and encouragement? How can you translate that routine into your student life?


Here’s an example of a short self-care manifesto based on what you wrote last week:

We believe that self-care is a fundamental aspect of a healthy and fulfilling life. Therefore, we commit to prioritizing our well-being through the following actions:

  1. We will listen to our bodies and mind and honor our physical and emotional needs.
  2. We will set healthy boundaries and learn to say no when necessary.
  3. We will cultivate positive relationships that uplift and support us.
  4. We will take breaks when we need them and make time for rest and relaxation.
  5. We will nourish our bodies with healthy food, exercise, and adequate sleep.

Collective Self-Care Manifesto

We believe self-care is essential to maintaining wellness, joy in life, and a successful future. We do not want to be defined by productivity or profit. We will constantly interrogate how we can emphasize and practice freedom.  Hence, we commit to following these lifestyle choices:

  1. We will fulfill our bodily needs and pamper ourselves.
  2. We will learn discipline over our willpower to maximize our potential.
  3. We will learn not to identify ourselves with our failures and instead be kind to ourselves. 
  4. We will leave ample room for recovery and reevaluation. 
  5. We will be firm in our boundaries. We will give ourselves space from others when needed with high awareness about consent.
  6. We will prioritize our happiness and self-fulfillment. We will be open to new life experiences.
  7. We will not people-please, and we will learn to do what we need to do for ourselves, even if sometimes it seems selfish. We will build relationships with people that reciprocate the same energy.
  8. We will be more responsible with our financial budgeting and our distribution of time and energy. We will aspire to balance.
  9. We will speak our minds and not let things marinate inside our heads. We will prioritize our mental health. We will practice mindfulness and meditation to secure our inner peace. 
  10. We will respect other’s people healthy goals.