Tales from the Barrio and Beyond is a new collection of short stories by my friend and colleague Irma Olmedo, published by Floricanto Press. These stories focus on the experiences of Puerto Ricans who came to Nueva York in the great migration of the1950s. Olmedo’s book is receiving critical acclaim, and gaining a wider audience with renewed interest in Latinx authors, and especially women writers.
In this collection of short stories, Irma Olmedo immerses her readers in the world of her childhood growing up in New York’s El Barrio… Tinged with nostalgia for her years surrounded by family, celebratory meals, and togetherness while facing economic challenges as other working-class Puerto Rican families in la gran urbe, Olmedo’s stories reclaim the humanity of displaced Puerto Rican families…through dialogues that are succinct yet truly human, exploding with a candidly felt, nurturing cariño. While the focus rests on her extended family, the stories reveal a larger social and historical moment in New York. Themes such as the mistranslations of migration through consumerism, the power of music and memory, the social alliances between Puerto Ricans and Italians, the limited access to resources, gender and sexual identities, and the diverse generational perspectives of identity and culture across time, all come together in these beautiful narratives of culture, family and communities. Olmedo’s unique talent in assuming the voices of her family members… Bravo to a new voice that humanizes Puerto Ricans in the diaspora at a time when the State brutally dismisses our lives as unworthy of recognition.
~~~Frances R. Aparicio, Professor Emerita, Northwestern University
Barrio tales is a warm-hearted collection of short stories on memory, love, and loss told with compassion, humor and wit. Moving from Puerto Rico to barrios across the US, each story is a gem that captures the sights, sounds, smells, spirit, and emotions of a community on the move from the island to the diaspora. Irma María Olmedo has a keen ear for dialogue and is an original and inventive storyteller. Anyone interested in the immigrant experience will love these stories.
~~~Dr. Lourdes Torres, Editor, Latino Studies, Vincent de Paul Professor, Department of Latin American and Latino Studies, DePaul University