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Hispanic Heritage Month: Local Latina Authors Share Untold Stories With Worldwide Readers

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Three New York authors profiled in NY1's latest Hispanic Heritage Week piece write about their experiences and try to fill what they call a "void" in Latino literature. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.

Best-selling author Esmeralda Santiago recently took the stage at El Museo del Barrio in Manhattan to talk about her new book "Conquistadora." Her first work, "When I was Puerto Rican," put her on the literary map in 1994.

"When I began to write about life in Puerto Rico, there were not that many books about that," says Santiago. "So it was this desire to find myself in this culture, in this society and since I couldn't find it there, I began to write about it so that I could read it."

Santiago has inspired many writers, particularly Hispanic women who live in New York City. One of those authors, Sandra Guzman, had her second-edition guidebook "The New Latina's Bible" released this year.

"The way we look at life is very unique. We look at life through the prism of what it means to be Latina," says Guzman.

She tackles everything from love and spirituality to family and life. She says this conversation is a long time coming among such a large audience.

"There are more Latinos in the United States than there are Canadians in Canada," says Guzman. "It's massive, 50 million, and 50 percent of them are women. A vast majority of these women read in English but these women are invisible in the publishing world."

With the Latino population the youngest of all groups in the United States, with a median age of 27, Guzman says her next book will target Hispanic teens.

Newcomer Michele Carlo wrote "Fish Out Of Agua," based on her experiences of being a misfit, a red-haired Puerto Rican with freckles. She says her readers have connected.

"I meet the Ecuadorian redhead, the Chilean redhead, the Panamanian redhead, the Dominican redhead, the Colombian redhead, the España [Spain] redhead, and they say, you told my story," says Carlo.

As the projected Hispanic population in the United States climbs to 132 million by 2050, there are plenty more stories to tell.

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