Mist or Fog (1914) – Miguel de Unamuno
In this nivola, Unamuno, imagines a world in which the protagonist finds himself in a state of mist or fog. In my formative years as a reader, Unamuno launched me into the possibility of metafiction: the notion of a text where the character is able to kill their author was unimageable to me, and mindboggling.
Ulysses (1922) – James Joyce
In this totalizing novel, Joyce masterfully imagines Leopold, Stephen, and Molly in Dublin. This novel taught me language is malleable and can be used to create stories with unilinear and fragmented narratives, disruption.
Pedro Páramo (1955) – Juan Rulfo
In this brief and hauntingly beautiful novel, Rulfo imagines the town of Cómala in México: all of the characters appear to exist in a state of limbo between life and death, where time appears to be caught in a spiral. This novel in an unilinear narrative and very clear, concise, and simple sentences, unveils profoundly painful truths of Latin American rural lands and its people.
The House on Mango Street (1984) – Sandra Cisneros
In this brief novel, Cisneros carves out the experience of a Latinx family in an urban landscape, Chicago: in vignette form and from the perspective of a little girl named Esperanza. Cisneros imagines the often-brutal reality of immigrants, especially the one of women who long for a place of their own outside Patriarchy.
Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza (1987) – Gloria Anzaldúa
In this experimental and hybrid text, Anzaldúa lays down the foundation for disciplines or subjectivities seeking to imagine hybrid spaces, identities, or discourses (etc.). For me the power of this text comes from Anzaldúa’s relentless and unapologetic questioning of all of the cultures imposed upon here while inhabiting the U.S./México borderlands.
Julio Enriquez-Ornelas is currently an Assistant Professor at Millikin University where he was named a Coleman Foundation Fellow and James Millikin Estate-Professor in Education. His scholarly and creative work has appeared in Hispania, Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association, Textos Híbridos, Alchemy: Journal of Translation, El BeisMan, Suburbano, and Paloma Revista. Twitter: @EnriquezOrnelas