8 Banned Books by Latino Authors

In recent months, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao has come under fire from parents in West Essex, New Jersey, who have labeled the Pulitzer Prize winning novel "vulgar" and "pornographic." Those parents have now demanded that the Board of Education remove the book from the high school curicullum.

Sadly, countless books have come under similar scrutiny, many Latino works have been banned, including classics like Bless Me, Ultima and The House Of The Spirits and more. As they say: banning a book is the best way to inspire people to read it. In the spirit of that idea, pick up one of these books that have, at one point, been banned: 

1. Banned Books: Bless Me Ultima

Rudulfo Amaya's masterpiece Bless Me, Ultima follows a young boy named Antonio whose life changes forever when a curandera — folk healer — moves in with him and his family in New Mexico. The novel, published in 1972, has been the subject of numerous challenges and bans. In 2013, the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom named the novel the ninth most contested in the nation. The challenges, as reported, dealt with accusations of "Satanism, offensive language, differing religious viewpoints, and sexual explicit" content.

Bless Me, Ultima, $8, Amazon


2. Banned Books: Occupied America

In 2012, the Tucson Unified School District suspended the highly-successful Mexican American studies department in response to 2010's HB 2281, which made it illegal to teach curriculums that "promot[ed] resentment towards a race or class or people... are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group... or advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals." 

School officials ordered the removal of many books from classrooms in TUSD, including Occupied America: A History of Chicanos by Rodolfo Acuña. According to a release posted by TUSD, the books have not been "banned," but simply "boxed and stored as part of the process of suspending the classes." 

Occupied America: A History of Chicanos, $85.43, Amazon


3. Banned Books: Chicano!

In Chicano! The History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement, historian Francisco Rosales explores the Chicano movement from 1965 to 1975. The work of non-fiction is a valuable historical summary of an important cultural moment in America. Unfortunately, that did not prevent it from being banned in Arizona's classrooms, per HB 2281. 

Chicano! The History of the Mexican Civil Rights Movement, $19.13, Amazon


4. Banned Booked: Mexican White Boy

In 2012, Mexican WhiteBoy by Matt De La Peña became another casualty of Arizona's controversial laws. According to the New York Times, De La Peña visited Tucson High after the ban took place, and donated 240 copies of his book to students. 

Mexican WhiteBoy, $8.99, Amazon


5. Banned Books: Loverboys

Loverboys, a short story collection by Ana Castillo, discusses love and lust from a traditional Latina perspective. Publisher's Weekly described her writing as endowed with "earthy eroticism" and "zesty humor," which perhaps explains why Castillo's work earned a spot on the banned list in Arizona public schools. Click here to see the full list.

Loverboys, $12.56, Amazon


6. Banned Books: Like Water For Chocolate

Like Water, For Chocolate, the international bestseller by Laura Esquivel, was banned from the sophomore English class at Nampa High School in Nampa, Idaho for "sexual situations." 

Like Water, For Chocolate, $12.34, Amazon


7. Banned Books: House Of The Spirits

Isabel Allende's masterpiece The House Of The Spirits counts itself among the most recognizable and revered works of Latino fiction. However, that didn't seem to protect it from the wrath of the "parental complaint." Parents in North Carolina's Watauga County asked that the school board remove the work from the tenth-grade honors English curriculum. Unfortunately, several local commissioner's also agreed with these parents, calling the book "filth" and "despicable."

Allende heard of the dissent, and mailed an impassioned letter (along with a copy of her book) to the district superintendent and the principal of Watauga High School. 

It must have worked. The House of Spirits still stands on the English honors curriculum. 

The House Of The Spirits, $9.39, Amazon


8. Banned Books: Y No Se

...Y No Se Lo Trago La Tierra or ...And The Earth Did Not Devour Him came under fire in 2013 when the parents of a boy in Clarke County, Georgia, demanded that the school district remove the book from curriculums for explicit language. The novel details the coming-of-age story of a Mexican migrant in 1940s Texas, but the parents claimed that the story of his plight lost "any possible value... with offensive language."

The superintendent declined to remove the book from schools. 

Y No Se Lo Trago La Tierra..., $13.08, Amazon